Forests sell-off criticism grows

Unions have joined the widespread criticism of Government plans to sell off 258,000ha of England's forests after ministers launched a consultation on the ownership of Forestry Commission land.

Environment secretary Caroline Spelman said heritage forests such as the New Forest and the Forest of Dean would go to charitable trusts but added that "there's now no reason for the Government to be in the business of timber production and forest management". She said individuals, businesses and civil society organisations would lease or buy the forests.

Unite national officer Ian Waddell said: "We are completely opposed to privatising our forests. It undoubtedly means a loss of public access to these areas for recreation. The Forestry Commission is good value for money at a cost of only 30p per UK citizen per year."

- The consultation ends on 21 April. See www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/forests/index.htm.


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