Does having a green tree logo mean the Tories have the right to sell-off all our nationally owned trees? Can they justify selling off 650,000 acres of our forests in England (the plans dont apply to Scotland) to raise £2bn, when preserving these forests costs just 30p per taxpayer per year, and gives pleasure and recreation to millions. Join us in this campaign to keep Forestry Commission ownership and management of woods near Swindon, including Nightingale Wood and Severnake Forest.
David Cameron promised us he would lead the greenest government ever however Environment Minister Caroline Spelman is rushing through the policy to sell off all public trees for a quick profit, and at the same time Eric Pickles is stripping away the protection offered by planning permission.
Cameron has said the forest sell-off empowers local communities to take over the forests for themselves as part of a big Society”, but DEFRA(the ministry responsible) expects only about 1 percent of the sales to go to local co-operatives or green groups. Most of them will go to the Tories friends who will then put up the fences to keep you and me out!!. The big Society is being used to camouflage the dismantling of public (state) ownership of the environment. Many of these forests became public as far back as the Magna Carta in 1215 and should stay that way.
Cameron has been accused of breaking every environmental promise he made prior to the election. He told us in 2007 when talking about forests that he would take a more effective and strategic approach to safeguarding a priceless – and irreplaceable – natural asset.” He said the countries that are cutting forests down are barmy.”
Well this sale is part of the Coalition’s ideological ‘barmy‘ thinking which will see the sale of forests into private hands. A clear message needs to be given to the Coalition that britains forests don’t belong to them, they belong to us.
Going through the House of Lords as we write this is the Public bodies bill. This bill contains measures which enable the sell-off. Yet at the same time they are about to start another consultation – as if their minds werent set already!
So whats at risk – well big national forests like the New Forest and the Forest of Dean certainly are. 3,700 ha in Wiltshire are owned or leased by the Forestry Commission (1). Parts of the Marlborough Forest or Westonbirt could be sold. Even the Forestry Commission’s lease of Severnake Forest could have to be given up. Closer to Swindon, Nightingale Wood (near to Dorcan) might have to go and the work that the Forestry Commission does with the Great Western Community Forest (already suffering Council job losses) could stop.
A YouGov poll today showed that 84% of the british public oppose this plan to sell of public forests . Please help us by signing the petition on www.38degrees.org.uk/save-our-forests to stop the Government from selling off our prize national assets.