Government in tree climb down

stoke park wood picnik

The future of the popular woodland at Stoke Park seems to be assured today as the government performed a U –turn on its plans to sell off all forestry commission land.

Addressing parliament the Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

“I am sorry, we got this one wrong.”

She said she took “full responsibility” for the policy reversal after it became clear “the public and many MPs are not happy with the proposals”.

Caroline Spelman said the public consultation would be scrapped and the relevant forestry clauses in the Public Bodies Bill, which is currently in committee stage removed.

Instead, a new independent panel will be established to consider forestry policy in England, comprised of representatives from key environment organisations and the forestry industry, and will report back in the autumn.

Speaking to Eastleigh News this morning local campaigner Robert Byrne said:

“This is great news for lovers of the countryside and shows that when people band together in enough numbers to express their concerns they will be listened to”

Mr Byrne had written of his concerns to David Cameron, Chris Huhne and Keith House.

Last week Mr Huhne wrote to Mr Byrne to indicating that the consultation was likely to be scrapped. In his letter Mr Huhne drew attention to 25,000 acres of Forestry Commission woodland sold off over the 13 years of the last Labour Government but strangely the Liberal Democrat MP failed to mention the 518,591 acres the last Conservative government sold off over the course of their 16 year term of office.

Photo: Errol Naughton

The announcement today in parliament:

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  3 comments for “Government in tree climb down

  1. Peter Stewart
    February 19, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Tree lovers be warned! This is NOT a government climb down! It is a tactical RETREAT in the face of fierce opposition. It is merely a regrouping, a gathering of forces ready for the next far more decisive offensive!

    Readers of EASTLEIGHNEWS.CO.UK may not know that the privatization of our publicly owned woodland (every last acre) is a requirement of the European project. This enforcement manifests itself as the EU Procurement Directives. Like the privatization of our railways, postal service, buses, refuse collection, hospitals etc. etc. etc., the privatization of the publicly owned forests WILL go ahead (like it or not)! The result will be wholesale buying up of our now publicly owned woodland, by European investors who will CHARGE YOU for entry to the woods! And just as in the other privatized national utilities, we, the great British taxpayer, will STILL end up subsidizing them. The profits will go to Europe!

    Be warned again! No British government (EU PUPPET MPS) has EVER overturned a single EU Directive or Initiative during the entire 38 years that Britain has been annexed by “Europe”.

    So tree lovers be prepared to fight again. Don’t let our woodland go the same disastrous way as all the other public enterprises which rightfully belong to the British people.

    • mm
      Eastleigh Xpress
      February 19, 2011 at 10:27 am

      Peter stewart is correct when he says that EU regualtions means that the government cannot subsidise business or run a state monopoly.
      The Forestry Commission MUST be opened to the market – and of course we are talking about the European single market.

      Finding itself strapped for cash the Lib/con’s tried to speed up the exsisitng ‘salami slicing’ process whereby 15% of woodland is quietly being sold off every year by announcing plans to sell off the lot in couple of huge tranches – but they did not expect the public backlash.

      As Chris Huhne pointed out 23,500 acres were sold by the last government using the 15% annual disposal although what he failed to mention (along with the Conservative parties appalling record on forestry sales) was that to offset the loss, Labour funded the planting of 5000 acres of community woodland.
      Under EU rules government sponsored commercial forestry bad – community woodland good.
      There was a sale of 15% of FC woodland scheduled for this year and I believe this will still go ahead – it’s the consultation into ‘get-rich-quick’ wholesale disposal that has been kicked into the long grass.
      As far as I am aware the annual 15% disposal has not been stopped and will continue.
      The government have not yet indicated which woodlands are up for sale this year – that will be left til the last minute.
      Hopefully when it’s the turn of Stoke Park Keith House will still be interested in saving it for the community.

  2. Anne Romaine
    February 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    The Lib Dems in Bishopstoke already have a leaflet out saying they want Eastleigh Borough Council to own and manage Stoke Park Woods and turn it into a country park. They don’t seem to realise people want it left as it is

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