Saturday, February 12, 2011

More on England's Forestry Estate

I'm not sure that the Labour Opposition properly understand today's announcement concerning the Forestry Commission Estate in England. Not surprising - since it was obvious that Labour had little understanding of what had previously been announced. Actually, I don't think Labour wanted to know. Anyway here's the BBC report of the announcement.

Now I greatly support this move. As regular readers will know I considered the Coalition Government's Consultation Document on divesting the Forestry Commission of its forests as a very good working document. I have encouraged the 200 plus who have contacted me to read it and respond to it. I have also sent them all a copy of the Defra Secretary of State's excellent speech introducing the Consultation Document to Parliament.

But there was another related issue which was being largely ignored. For years, the British Government has been selling parts of the forest to raise funds, and the current Government had announced six months ago that 15% of the FC forests in England were to be sold. This was completely separate from the current Consultation Document which referred to the 85% remaining. What happened today was that Caroline Spelman decided to bring this 15% within the ambit of her Consultation Document - which is great news to me. My firm opinion is that the current Coalition Government will bring greater access to England's forests, greater biodiversity, and a more transparent regulatory system - a triple whammy as the Sun might say.


the outsider said...

I would suggest that anyone interested in the future of Englands woodland look at the following website and also read the article in the Sunday Times today by Jonathan Leake. The question of Forest sales might arise in the future in Wales, indeed as I have said on this blog before this most recent phase of sales started when Welsh Labour politician Huw Iranaca Davies was the Minister with responsibility for Forestry. Anglesey has native red squirrel's so Leake's article is likely to be of particular interest in that part of Wales. From what I read and hear I think most of the English public are against the idea of these sales.

Glyn Davies said...

Outsider - No reason why forestry sales should arise in Wales unless the Assembly Government decided so. Intersting that the Coalition Governmnet has decided to stop the forestry sales that Labour carried out, bringing all disposals into the current consultation. What many seem to forget is that no woodland can be felled without a licence from the Forestry Commission in its 'regulatory' role. And the licence will almost always require a full replanting scheme! In passing, are the woods of Ynys Mon owned by the Forestry Commission or privately owned?

the outsider said...

Indeed, when I enquired about Newborough Forest on Ynys Mon, the FC in Wales said they knew of no plans to sell Welsh woodlands, and this is the current stated position of WAG I believe. They didn't say if Newborough was owned, wholly or partly, or merely managed by the FC. The detail about individual titles is a question for their Estates department.

the outsider said...

The Newborough Forest Management Plan 2010-15, published on 30/11/10 is an interesting read. The freehold of the Forest has been passed by the Secretary of State for Wales to the National Assembly for Wales. The plan gives some details about the leases that currently exist and the EU and GB nature designations and protected habitats and species. The plan to fell certain trees is in arbitration as there is disagreement over the science.

My view is that people should remain vigilant, as the last Labour Government encouraged the FC to act without public consultation in respect of sales of English woodland that the Government owned.

the outsider said...

David Caemeron deserves credit for his Forest sales U-turn. At least he has shown that he will listen to reasoned argument and take note of the number of voters (including many Conservatives) who opposed the English woodlands sell-off. The real hypocrites in all this are the Labour opposition. I was almost throwing bottles at the TV when I saw Hilary Benn in the House sitting opposite Caroline Spelman, when she had the good grace to apologise for getting this issue wrong. Hilary Benn on the other hand, did not even reply to my letter of complaint when he was Secretary of State for DEFRA and oversaw the sale of a Forest next to my farm. This sale was done secretly, hurriedly, and without making any provision for local cyclists and riders, or for habitat conservation and restoration. And the sale left an old Foresters cottage that was situated in the middle of the woodland, without any right of access over the newly privatised woodland to the highway, thus making the Foresters cottage worthless and giving the new owner of the woodland the ability to levy a hefty ransom for the access. So Mr Benn and his party do not have anything to look smug about!