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Woodland U-turn welcomed

24 February 2011

by Ed Thornton

THE Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, welcomed the Government’s decision to abandon plans to sell off public forests (News, 28 January), and urged campaigners to be “vigilant” about future pro­posals.

On Thursday of last week, the Secretary of State for the Environ­ment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, told the House of Commons that she had decided “to end the consultation on the future of the Public Forest Estate . . . because it is quite clear from the early re-sponses to the consultation that the public and many MPs are not happy with the proposals we set out”.

Bishop Perham, who, together with the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Christopher Hill, backed the campaign to protect the Forest of Dean from being sold (News, 14 January), said that the decision was “welcome news for all who care about the rural environment, but especially, of course, for those who live in the Forest of Dean.

“It is an important victory, and we should be grateful to all those [who] marshalled public support to resist the Government’s proposals. I have been glad to play my part in putting down an amendment in the House of Lords relating to the Forest of Dean, and I am pleased that it will no longer be necessary to move that amend­ment.

“We need, however, to be vigilant to ensure that any future proposals from the Government relating to the forests are very different in character.”

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