Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain’s forests…(Call China!)
Ministers are planning a massive sell-off of Britain’s Government-owned forests as they seek to save billions of pounds to help cut the deficit, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
By Patrick Hennessy and Rebecca Lefort
23 Oct 2010
Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.
The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.
Legislation which currently governs the treatment of “ancient forests” such as the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest is likely to be changed giving private firms the right to cut down trees.
Laws governing Britain’s forests were included in the Magna Carta of 1215, and some date back even earlier.
Conservation groups last night called on ministers to ensure that the public could still enjoy the landscape after the disposal, which will see some woodland areas given to community groups or charitable organisations.
However, large amounts of forests will be sold as the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeks to make massive budget savings as demanded in last week’s Spending Review.