Small ads

Selling (out) the forests

From Michael Piggott

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

I presume all those on email in this constituency will have received Whittaker's message promoting government policy on the selling off of the forests.

This was my reply to him:

Absolutely not.

There is absolutely no good reason to sell off any publicly-owned forests.

The only reason the government wants to do this is ideological: they want to foist full-on capitalism into every area of our lives, including where it is detrimental to do so: the utilities (that particular heinous policy being started by Thatcher), the railways (privatisation continued by a very right-wing Labour government) and the Health Service. These policies are socially harmful, they will hurt people, they are wrong and they are evil.

The government does not have a mandate for such policies and is therefore an illegitimate government. I am in favour of bringing the government down, with mass demonstrations and a general strike. Egypt is showing the way!

From Andy M

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Can't see your reply making him change his mind Mark!

I too (as did all people who wrote to their MP's via 38 degrees?) got a standard response which doesn't fill me with confidence that our MP (a) knows anything about the subject or (b) cares what his constituents think.

The 'only' 18 % irked me (referring to the size of the Forest Enterprise estate). I don't care if it was 'only' 1.8% - it's the principle that counts and anyway, that 18% represents 44% of our accessible woodland.


From Sutti H

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I have written to Mr Whittaker several times and always got the Tory line. He will not give his opinion because I don't think he has one unless you have money. I know of people he will help and defend but they all seem to have money, land or properties.

I am all in favour of protecting the forests from private ownership, along with the NHS, public transport, disabled services, cuts in the CAB, against relaxing the smoking ban etc all the things Mr Whittaker wants to toe the line with.

From Jim M

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Let's keep our woods and forests owned by the people for the people. The Coalitions own figures show that selling them off will cost rather than save money.

From Ben Plumpton

Monday, 7 February 2011

I wrote to Craig Whittaker recently saying how disappointed I was that he voted in favour of the government proposals last week. I thought Hebweb readers might be interested to see his reply, which didn't reassure me at all, and I found it rather aggressive. Anyway, judge for yourself on the arguments he offers.



Dear all

Thank you for contacting me via the Labour campaign website 38 degrees regarding Wednesday's vote on the future of the Forestry Commission. I am grateful to those who personalised their email. I appreciate that this is an important issue to you, and I share your huge affection towards forests, but the 38 degrees campaign is frustratingly very one-sided so forgive me if I offend with the tone of my email.

Firstly let me explain that Wednesday's vote was on an Opposition Day debate which are politically motivated events in the House of Commons. They rarely provide an opportunity to discuss substantive or constructive policy development and last week was no exception. Secondly, as a signed up member to 38 degrees are you aware that under the Labour Government 25,000 acres of forest were sold off without any access rights guaranteed, whereas the PROPOSALS currently being consulted on will enshrine access rights into law? Are you aware that heritage forests will be protected? Are you aware that local and community groups will be offered the opportunity to own their local woodland? Has 38 degrees asked you whether you'd prefer your local woodland to be run by a man in a suit sitting behind a desk in Whitehall or by an organisation such as the Woodland Trust or the National Trust? Do you know that these measures only apply to 18% of our forests?

I thought it might help if you see the text of the motion that I did vote for:

"This House deplores the actions of the previous administration in selling off 25,000 acres of public forestry estate with wholly inadequate protections; notes that the previous administration sought to go even further in finding ways to exploit the forestry estate for commercial gain as recently as 2009; welcomes the consultation proposals to guarantee the future protection of heritage forests by offering them charitable trust status; supports the consultation proposals for robust access and public benefit conditions that will be put in place through lease conditions, including access rights for cyclists and horse-riders; believes the leasehold conditions regarding biodiversity and wildlife conservation will safeguard significant important environmental benefits; sees these proposals as important in resolving the conflict of interest whereby the Forestry Commission is the regulator of the timber sector whilst being the largest operator in the England timber market; considers that debate on the future of the forest estate ought to be conducted on the basis of the facts of the Government's proposals; and believes that under these proposals people will continue to enjoy the access and benefits they currently have from the woodlands of England."

It is without doubt that our proposals will see a transfer of ownership but they won't be concreted over as the campaign groups suggest nor will access rights be threatened, unlike the forestry sell-off under the last Government. I voted on Wednesday to defeat political opportunism at its worst and to ensure that when legislation is brought forward on this matter, our forests are actually better protected in the future than they are now.

Best wishes

Craig Whittaker MP

From Paul Knights

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mr Whittaker is mistaken about the nature of the organisation 38 Degrees which has spearheaded the campaign to prevent the sell-off of publicly owned forests. It is not a 'Labour campaign website' at all. It is in fact a wholly independent campaign group, as they make very clear.

From Andrew Hall

Friday, 11 February 2011

There is the Forestry Commission's own consultation documents which is worth completing. I don't like it one bit, as it seems to work on the assumption that the sell-off is a fait accompli. There is nowhere specifically to comment on the principle of selling off a public asset, but there are plenty of places to add your own comments (including Q16 Additional Comments). Do let them know your views.