Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

No sale of public forest estate

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman pledged 'our forests will stay in public hands'

The Government has said it would not sell the public forest estate after an expert panel called for the 258,000 hectares of woodland to remain in public ownership.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman pledged that "our forests will stay in public hands", more than a year after she was forced into a U-turn on a bid to privatise England's forests following public outrage.

The Independent Panel on Forestry, set up after the outcry prompted by the bid to dispose of public woodlands to businesses, communities and charities, said the estate should remain in public ownership as land held in trust for the nation.

The panel said the Government needs to value woodlands for all the benefits they provide for people, nature and the economy and to invest in the public forest estate to avoid having to sell off woods to balance the books.

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