Monday, 10 January 2011

Rethink required on Woodland sell-off!

I am calling on the coalition government to think again about controversial plans which could see local woodland sold off to the highest bidder.

Government proposals to sell off parts of the Public Forestry estate in England contain no assurances on who can own the land and how it will be managed once in private ownership.

Uncertainty remains about rights to public access and the maintenance of biodiversity in woodland once sales go ahead. Before any sales go ahead we need to know what these plans involve and what safeguards will be put in place so that local woodland is protected.

There are 28,000 hectares of Forestry Commission land in the North West and 153 hectares in the Wigan Borough. It would be a tragedy if the Government’s plans result in a forestry fire-sale.

Rather than putting a “for sale” sign over Wigan’s woodland the Government should be consulting local people about what their plans mean in practice.

Ministers should be talking about how we secure the future of our national forests for the next generation. Instead we have heard nothing so far. Until the Government comes clean over their plans the public will rightly remain sceptical.