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: