The Forestry Commission is responsible for over 1,400 woodlands in England, including well-known forests such as the New Forest, Sherwood, the Forest of Dean and Kielder.
The legislation allowing the government to dispose of all of English woodland is already in the House of Lords. More than 360,000 people have signed a petition against the Tory-led Government’s plans, the largest such campaign since the general election.
Labour has launched a new website - www.thislandisourland.org.uk - to keep people updated on the campaign to protect England’s forests.
Hundreds of constituents have emailed me to protest at the government’s plans to rush through the sale of our national forests with no guarantees over their funding or public access. Most woodland in England is already in private hands. We need to keep our public forests open for everyone and ensure that they remain in place for future generations to enjoy. At 30p per person per year the Forestry Commission has to be the cheapest national treasure imaginable.
There are 300 hectares of Forestry Commission land in London. These are well-used, much loved local woods. Labour wants the government to listen to the protests and think again.
Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, says:
“Labour gave people the right to roam; established two national parks; widened access to woodlands and set targets for the recovery of sites of special scientific interest.
Labour increased the Forestry Commission budget and severely restricted its right to sell land. Around 9,500 hectares were sold and 5,400 hectares were bought, compared with the 72,500 hectares sold within three years when the Tories last put our woodlands on the market.”