Govt signals U-turn on forest sell-off

By staff

There are firm signs of a U-turn on plans to sell-off England’s forests, triggering celebrations among campaigners.

While the main scheme could still go ahead, the planned sale of 15% of publicly-owned forests this year has been put on hold – seemingly opening the door to a full U-turn later on.

“This is a panic measure by a government which has been spooked by the huge public outcry,” shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said.

“This partial U-turn will not be enough to silence the protests.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said the move showed what coordinated protest could achieve.

“This is not a U-turn but the start of a three-point turn,” he said.

“We look forward to hearing that the Forestry Commission job losses will now also be called off and that the whole forestry disposal debacle will be scrapped.

“This shows that people power can make a difference.”

The government said it would “re-examine” the criteria for disposing of the forests but analysts believe the scale of public opposition to the sell-off may have startled the government into a major backtrack on its plans.