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Save Our Forests

* Once woodland has been sold, the public will no longer have any automatic "right to roam" on the land

* The "right to roam" laws do not include riding

* Selling public woodland will dramatically reduce riders' rights to ride, force more and more riders on to increasingly dangerous roads and even force many riders to stop riding altogether.

Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

Save Our Forests - The Government U-turnThe BHS must Act NOW

The BHS should send, without delay to Government, model clauses for the regulations to govern access including that for equestrians. It will do no good to give the 'backroom boys' time to think up politically acceptable words to maintain,generally, the exclusion of horses.

Strike quickly! The tide is flowing in a helpful direction.

Once Government has the clauses (it is important it has them first) give the widest publicity to them.

Peter S. Middleton


Save Our Forests - The Government U-turn

The experience of the last few weeks has elevated the importance of protecting access, amenity and biodiversity even more..

Damian Hinds MP

In the House of Commons, Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, made a statement in which she announced the termination of the consultation process on the future of forestry and the withdrawal of the Government’s proposals. I know that the vast majority of people will welcome this, as do I.

I believed there were a number of unanswered questions and very understandable anxieties locally about the impact the proposals could potentially have on our own much loved forests, including Chawton Park Woods, Bushey Leaze, Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Alice Holt. I had made interim representations to the Minister and put a number of questions, pending my formal submission after the public meeting on 11th March. We have also had a number of debates and meetings on this subject in Parliament at which I and colleagues conveyed the strength of feeling we were hearing on key parts of the proposals.

Candidly, I must say I always expected the consultation to run its course. The fact that it has been stopped early is a measure of the weight of opinion and the effectiveness of the campaign and I pay tribute to all locally who have contributed to this. I must say as well though that I am encouraged by how the Government has responded to this clear expression of public opinion. I do not at all subscribe to the view that it is a sign of weakness to change your mind, rather I think it is a sign that the Government is prepared to listen.

Specifically, Mrs. Spelman’s statement today covered three actions
– first to end the consultation, secondly to remove clauses on forestry from the Public Bodies Bill (currently at Committee Stage in the House of Lords) and thirdly to establish an independent panel to consider forestry policy in England and to see how we can enhance protections for our woodlands. This Panel is to include representatives of key environmental and access organisations, as well as representatives from the forestry industry. Its membership and terms of reference are yet to be published. I will, of course, be taking a close interest in the Panel’s work and, based on the large amount of feedback and input I have had from constituents, I will be making a submission to them.

In a Q & A session today in the Commons, the Secretary of State also made clear that submissions already made to the consultation can also be considered by the Panel.

I still plan to go ahead with a public meeting on Friday, 11th March, (at the Maltings Centre in Alton starting at 7.30) but would now envisage broadening the subject matter to include both forestry and any other topic people would like to raise on government policy or local issues.

I am very grateful to everybody who has got in touch with me on this important subject. It has become clearer than ever through this episode that throughout the country our forests and woodlands are a hugely appreciated and much loved resource. The experience of the last few weeks has elevated the importance of protecting access, amenity and biodiversity even more.

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