A consultation document was issued today by the Druids, which sets out their proposals to sell most of the members of the British government. Very little opposition to the scheme has been voiced in the run-up to the publication, although the Druids admit that so far no buyers seem likely to come forward…
The government’s consultation document on their proposals to dispose of England’s public forests was published today. What are some initial responses to the document? You can read the Woodland Trust’s response here.
But now, rather than quoting from The Guardian or The Independent, whose responses critics might argue are bound to be negative, let’s see what that traditionally Tory paper, The Telegraph (called by Private Eye The Torygraph) writes:
Forest sell-off could leave heritage sites in hands of ‘supermarkets and sleazy bankers’
Government claims that communities would benefit from the privatisation of the country’s forests were cast into doubt after the largest woodland charity said it would not take part in the sale.
The Woodland Trust, which officials suggested could take over some heritage forests, said that it did not have the funds to participate. Local authorities facing severe cut backs as part of the Government’s austerity drive are also thought unlikely to want to take on the expense. Opposition MPs warned that the sales would almost certainly be restricted to large companies or wealthy individuals such as “sleazy bankers” who may not be inclined to ensure public access to forests.
Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, added: “It is an act of sheer environmental vandalism. Their plans will destroy the funding system which has protected England’s forests for nearly 100 years. “Private companies will cherry pick sites for commercial development and communities will be left struggling to preserve local woods without a budget.” Sue Holden, chief executive of the Trust, added: “While we fully support the concept of community ownership, we don’t believe that the charitable sector can be the solution to future care of all of the publicly owned heritage woodlands, as it will not have the resources to manage these for decades into the future without substantial and sustained government funding.
“We don’t believe the government has properly considered the feasibility of this option.” Read more
Before you gird your loins for several months of campaigning, you might want to relax with this brief film that reminds us (as if we need that!) of why we care about this subject:
Latest news from the Save our Forests campaign. Do help if you can by contributing to their ad fund and demonstrating in the mass lobby at Parliament in London on 9th Feb (see this post on that):
Our Save Our Forests campaign is creating a national sensation! We’ve got the media’s attention, and we can see politicians getting nervous. Now we need to ratchet this campaign up another gear, and show the government the pressure will keep on rising until they drop their plans to sell off our precious woodlands.
So far the government has tried to respond by bringing in the spin doctors and launching a “consultation”. They’re claiming that they love the forests too and there’s nothing to worry about. They’re asking for views on how our forests should be sold off – when they already know most of us don’t want them sold at all. Meanwhile they’re quietly removing legal protections for our public woodland, paving the way for privatisation. What sort of a consultation is that?
If they want to know what we think, here it is: 38 Degrees members have already funded a national survey confirming that 84% of the public think our public forests should be protected for future generations. Our enormous petition of nearly 250,000 signatures – almost three times the capacity of Wembley Stadium – proves that people care enough to speak out. Now we need to get our message where the government can’t ignore it.
Chip in to fund the ad in our national press now:
The government seems to be trying to respond to our campaign with media spin. So let’s give them a media moment they won’t soon forget:”Save Our Forests” adverts, splashed across the newspapers next week.
Imagine the impact as David Cameron opens his newspapers to see our “Save Our Forests” message: full-page adverts backed by nearly a quarter of a million signatures, in newspapers read by millions of voters.
People power can save our forests. We’ve got our campaign in the headlines, on TV and radio. Posters have sprung up in woodlands across the country. Local ‘Save our Woods’ groups are popping up everywhere. Tens of thousands of us have written to our MPs. Now let’s get together to get our message all over the national newspapers – just where the government won’t want to see it!
Click here to see a current mock-up of our ads, and make a secure donation now to put them in the national press:
Thanks for getting involved,