Woodlands could still be sold, says Government

Allerthorpe wood
Allerthorpe wood

THE CHANCES of Allerthorpe Woods remaining publicly-owned have increased after the Government axed plans to sell-off much of state-owned woodland in England, but it could yet be sold.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman recently confirmed that the public consultation launched last month has been halted and all forestry clauses in the Public Bodies Bill will be removed.

Mrs Spelman also announced that an independent panel of experts will examine forestry policy in England and report back to her in the autumn.

The abandoned plans involved selling off 258,000 hectares of public woodland to the private sector.

But critics argued it could threaten public access, biodiversity and result in forests being used for unsuitable purposes.

The plans caused widespread concern with hundreds of thousands of people signing petitions against the sell-off.

Despite the Government’s U-turn, it is still possible Allerthorpe Woods could be sold.

The government is allowed to sell off 15 per cent of England’s woodlands in each four-year public spending period.

The current planned 15 per cent sale of about 40,000 hectares is on hold while criteria are examined to make sure public benefits are protected.

However, it is due to go ahead over the next four years which will raise an estimated £100m.