Harrogate MP pleased by decision to keep forests in public hands

4 July 2012

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP welcomes the Independent Panel on Forestry’s final report deciding to end uncertainty over the ownership of England’s woodlands and forests still owned by the Forestry Commission.

Many hundreds of constituents contacted Andrew Jones MP sharing their views and comments on the proposals including many concerning the future of Stainburn Forest.

The report states that the Public Forest Estate (PFE) should continue to benefit from public ownership and that the Forestry Commission needs to evolve to face the tasks ahead of them.

The Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said that they will not be selling off the PFE as she agrees with the panel that the forests should remain in public ownership.

Andrew, a keen walker and environmentalist, was pleased to hear that the secretary of state had agreed with the panel’s findings.

Andrew Jones MP said: 

We live in area of great natural beauty, and I understand there was a lot of concern surrounding the initial proposals.

I had many discussions with colleagues and Ministers on the issue at the time of the initial proposal and I am glad the uncertainty is over.

The first proposals weren’t right, this is why the panel was put in place and has resulted in a sensible and constructive solution.

I would like to thank my constituents for bringing their views to my attention, their contributions have helped the panel reach a conclusion that secures the future of our forests and woodlands.


Caroline Lucas Green Party MP added:

Today’s announcement that the Government will not be selling off our public forests is an incredible victory for the many groups and individuals that joined forces to protect the forest estate for people to enjoy today and for future generations.

Questions about the management and funding of the estate remain, though. There is a real risk that the Forestry Commission’s ability to evolve and build upon its track record of innovation and value for money will be hampered by current cuts to its budget and by job losses – the Government must now promise that there will be no further cuts to the Commission’s budget and staff.

The Coalition must also assure us that it has no intention of using PFI funding to raze our treasured forests to the ground and allow yet another public asset to be stripped by the private sector.

The full report is available at: www.defra.gov.uk/forestrypanel


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