The news is very good this morning.
It has been anounced that ministers are to shelve plans to sell off the 258,000 hectares of publicly owned forest. It appears that the massive volume of public protest has hit home at the higher echelons of government. That’s a great result. I heard last night in PMQ’s Ed Milliband asked David Cameron the direct question, “Can you tell us whether you are happy with your flagship policy on forestry?” Cameron replied, “The short answer to that is ‘no’.”. A very straightforward answer and probably the shortest one I’ve ever heard from any politician. He then chuckled and went on to flesh out his answer by saying the decision would be made at the end of the 12 week consultation period. Eighteen hours later it has been announced the sale is to be called off.
The Public Bodies Bill in which the proposed sale was to be passed into law is now to be amended and that will hopefully mean that this stupid idea can now be buried for a long time to come.
Another positive outcome is that a different panel of experts is to be set up to look into public access and biodiversity. I hope the experts are the right kind and can make sensible recommendations which can work in practice.
The only possible downside is that the government still plans to sell off 15% of the forest amounting to 40,000 hectares, but I hope that is the pine plantations which can be commercially exploited wiithout causing too much damage to the wildlife.
All in all, good news to start a foggy Thursday with!