Out of the woods?

Further to my earlier post, the government has done a U-Turn on the forest and woodlands sell-off.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/16/forests-sell-off-cameron-uturn

Plans scrapped after furious backlash and Ed Miliband jibing about PM changing the Conservative emblem to a tree.

David Cameron has ordered ministers to carry out the government’s biggest U-turn since the general election by abandoning plans to change the ownership of 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland.

Caroline Spelman, the environment secretary, will announce on Friday that a consultation on the sale of forests will be ended after a furious backlash that united Tory supporters with environmentalists and the Socialist Workers party.

“The consultation is going to be terminated,” a government source has said. A No 10 insider added: “It’s a cock-up. We just did not think.”

The prime minister, who told MPs that he was not happy with the government’s handling of the issue, has ordered Spelman to:

• End the consultation on plans to dispose of about half of the 258,000 hectares of woodland in England run by the Forestry Commission by 2020.

• Establish an independent panel with environmentalists to reach consensus on reforms to improve access and biodiversity in forests.

• Drop clauses in the public bodies bill that would allow the government to sell off all of England’s forests. Under current laws only 15% of forests can be sold.

3 Comments

  1. February 17, 2011

    According to the BBC it seems that the government decided that it was better to take a one day reputation hit because of doing a U-turn than to face rebellion for months if they pushed ahead.

    However, the 15% (which is per 4-year term) is also under criticism so they might get worn down on that as well if the pressure is kept up. Also they are still planning to lay off several hundred foresters and other support staff.

    • chris
      February 17, 2011

      Sure. In fact a cynic might think it a good strategy to leave it all with the Forestry Commission, while sticking them with a greatly reduced budget and workforce, as originally planned.

      Then when it all falls apart, they can say “We told you so”.

      But surely our government wouldn’t stoop to that!

      • February 17, 2011

        Well of course they wouldn’t – they’d have no need at all to stoop.

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