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Sunday, 23 January 2011

UK ConDem Govt National Forest Sell-off Begins to Bite

Raiders of the Lost Bark: ConDem Forest Sell-off Begins to Bite

The ConDem regime’s plan to sell off huge areas of our national forests to private concerns for potential commercial exploitation has started to bite with the first reported “lock-out” occurring in Cumbria.
A British National Party supporter and forest lover reported that Rigg Wood, a beautiful oak wood on gently sloping land at the very edge of Coniston Lake in Cumbria, was sold off for £120,000 in terms of a plan announced by Tory “environment” minister Caroline Spelman last year.
“As you drive along the single track road, the Lake on your left, woodland on your right, the first place you can stop is Rigg Wood,” said the party supporter.
“There's just a pull-in for about twenty cars, where people park to unload canoes or wander along the lake shore or walk up the hill. Last week I went to pull in as usual and found a strong fence and padlocked gates.”
The padlocked gates (illustrated alongside) are the first tangible sign of what is happening under the ConDem regime’s “plan” to reduce the budget deficit by hacking away at the environment budget.
The very first ConDem move in this regard was to slash the environment budget by 30 percent (while, of course, increasing foreign aid to the Third World, partly to protect the environment there).
The next step was an announcement in October last year by Ms Spelman that at least 150,000 hectares of forest and other land owned by the state in England was to be sold off within the following three years in order to raise funds.
The total amount which the Government hopes to pocket out of this sale is estimated to be “only” £250 million, a mere fraction of the £12.1 billion foreign aid spend or the £4 billion Afghanistan war cost, or even the billions spent each year on membership of the European Union.
Paul Hetherington, spokesman for the Woodland Trust, was quoted in a newspaper report at the time of the announcement as saying that the sale would “raise a tiny amount but could do immeasurable damage and cost the nation dearly.”
Ironically, this is not the first time a Tory government has tried to sell off Britain’s forests. Both the Thatcher and Major governments tried to privatise the Forestry Commission, but fortunately these attempts were defeated following a public outcry.
Even more remarkably, the forests actually turn a profit for the government, further confounding the ConDem logic in wanting to sell it off.
Official figures show that in England, the forestry commission costs the government some £30 million each year, but generates £63 million each year in income.
The plan to sell off our forests to private speculators, who might then conceivably gain commercial usage “rights” over that land, amounts to the destruction of our traditional rights.
The locking out of the public is furthermore a breach of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act of 2000, which ensures the public can walk freely on mapped areas.
None of this has stopped the ConDem regime in their destruction of this country and its peoples’ rights.
* Readers who are concerned about this destruction of our forest and its heritage are encouraged to sign the online petition against the sell-off of our heritage here.