Unite to fight Forestry Commission cuts

Union Unite says it will fight "tooth and nail" to save the 400 jobs to be cut at the Forestry Commission in England and Scotland.

Around 300 roles will be lost in England and between 100 and 150 will go at the Forestry Commission's corporate offices in Edinburgh over the next four years after cuts to the commission's budget of 26 per cent between now and 2015.

Meanwhile, Defra secretary of state Caroline Spelman has raised the prospect that the sell-off of the English Forestry Commission estate, proposed by the Government and currently out for consultation, may not happen. The plan has met widespread opposition, with critics saying it will not make the money the Government hopes.

The Government proposes to lease half the estate of 258,000 ha for 150 years to commercial timber companies and handing a third to charities such as the National Trust for them to generate income from. Some 15 per cent - 40,000ha- would be sold to the highest bidder.

But Spelman has now said the consultation is "genuinely open", giving hope to campaigners such as the 38 Degrees pressure group.

See www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry

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