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Jan 27th, 2011

Government launches Forests “Consultation”

By RamziS

The government launched its “consultation” today on how to privatise England’s forests. Here are a few first thoughts:

The forests aren’t safe until the clauses in the Public Bodies Bill that scrap legal protections for public woodlands are blocked.



Photograph by Ivan Dervisevic

– The Public Bodies Bill is currently in the House of Lords and its current wording gives the government powers to sell off up to 100% of the English forests without any further involvement from Parliament.

– Even if this government is stopped from selling-off the forests this time, the Bill would allow any future government to do it at any time. Can we really trust every government in coming years to keep that promise?

The fact that the government is now going into spin overdrive, offering warm words, spin, and a few genuine concessions, shows that our campaign is beginning to work.

– So that proves we need to keep going – if even more of us get involved, we can win!

– The more of us that get involved in the campaign, the better the chances that we keep our precious forests safe for future generations.

Horses on a field

Photograph by Chalkie_CC (Flickr)

– It’s good news that it looks like the government has made the concession of saying a small amount of the Public Forest Estate will at least not be sold off to private owners. But the reason so many of us have got involved in this campaign is because having 600,000 acres of publicly owned woodland all across England is a precious thing – we want to see all of that protected, not just a few famous sites while the rest is sold off.

– The best way to protect all our forests is to keep them in public hands — that’s why we will keep campaigning.

The public wants our forests kept in public hands for future generations – yet the government is only asking for our views on how to privatise it.

– The opinion poll last weekend, which 38 Degrees members clubbed together to pay for, showed that 84% of the public want the forest kept in public hands – so why isn’t the government offering this as an option?

– 1/4 million people from all around the UK have signed a petition against the forests being sold off.

– The government is pushing through changes to the law to enable privatisation, and has already embarked on selling off 15% of our woods.

If you haven’t yet passed on the petition to your friends and family, please help to spread the word and be part of the campaign to save our forests. Together, we’re going to keep the pressure up with rallies, letters to MPs, adverts and local meetings until the government abandons their plans and agree to keep our forests safe in public ownership.

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