25/01/2011
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Huge majority oppose forest sell-off plans

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A recent poll by YouGov* found that 84% of the general public agree that woods and forests should be kept in public ownership. This is in opposition to the government's plan to sell off all or part of the publicly owned forests and woodland in England.

Hawfinch
Hawfinch, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Photo: Lewis Thomson)

Responding to the poll, a Defra spokesman said: "The interest this [issue] has generated clearly shows that the public care about the country's forests. We do too and that is why protection will be in place. We urge anyone with an interest in this issue to wait for the consultation to be published and see our plans in full and not base views on speculation about privatisation."

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Common Redstart
Common Redstart, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Photo: Brian Davis)

Opponents of the sale argue that public access has not been preserved following smaller sales by the Forestry Commission. Others argue that privatisation of English woodland could cost the government millions of pounds in lost tax revenues and cancel out most of the money raised from its sale, as private owners enjoy exemption from capital gains tax, income tax and inheritance tax.

The plan has already prompted a mass demonstration in the Forest of Dean and an online petition by the campaign group 38 Degrees has collected more than 225,000 names. For more information on how you can voice your opposition to the plans, visit the 38 Degrees Action Centre and sign the online petition.

David Babbs, Executive Director of 38 Degrees, said: "Most British people want our woodlands protected for future generations and for wildlife. Yet right now the government is pushing through plans to privatise them. The government consultation looks like it will ask the wrong question. They are asking us how the forests should be privatised. But most of us don't want our forests privatised at all."

*The YouGov poll surveyed 2,253 adults between 13th and 17th January 2011 and is representative of all UK adults (back).

Written by: BirdGuides