Government forestry plans taking shape

The Government has fleshed out its plans for forestry in a letter to MPs, while unions have warned that health and safety budget cuts will lead to more workplace deaths.

Defra said a greater role for the private sector forms the heart of its plans, to be enshrined in the Public Bodies Bill, which has just gone before Parliament.

The bill will put the legal framework in place for the Government to carry out its plans to axe quangos and cut budgets. The Government said it would explore how to deliver public benefits at lower cost and would go to public consultation later this year.

This would be a new approach to ownership and management of woodlands and forests and would give individuals, businesses and local authorities bigger roles.

Meanwhile, Prospect union said a 35 per cent cut in the Health & Safety Executive's budget could lead to more work-related deaths.

North of the border, Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "Forestry policy has been a devolved matter since April 2003.

"It is for Scottish ministers to determine the future of Forestry Commission Scotland and the national forest estate, not Westminster. We have no plans to dispose of the forest estate and there is no review of the commission."

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