Suffolk: Plans to stop woodland sale will not affect Suffolk

CONTROVERSIAL plans to sell off some of the country’s woodland have been put on hold, the Government has announced.

But the move will only affect the 15% of forests that have already been earmarked for sale - not those in Suffolk which are currently undergoing consultation.

The Government is looking at a fundamental reform of the management of the country’s forestry estate.

Environment secretary Caroline Spleman said today that the 15% of publicly-owned woodlands already earmarked for sale would be put on hold while the criteria for selling them off are re-examined,

However she said the review would not affect the commitment to sell 15% of the forest estate over the next four years, and had no impact on the continuing consultation into the remaining 85% of the public forests - which includes the Sandlings Forests in east Suffolk and Theftford Forest, which spreads across the Suffolk/Norfolk border.

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The sale of 15% of the forest estate - the maximum the Government can sell under current legislation - aimed to raise �100 million towards the Environment Department’s budget.

The Government’s consultation, which provoked a storm of protest when it was published last month, outlines plans to offload England’s 258,000-hectare public forest estate, currently managed by the Forestry Commission, over the next 10 years.

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Ms Spelman said: “In light of the Government commitment to increase protection for access and public benefit in our woodlands, the criteria for these sales will be reviewed so that protections are significantly strengthened following the inadequate measures that were applied to sales under the previous administration.

“Pending this review, no individual woodland site will be put on the market.

“The revision of the timetable for this sales programme will ensure that the necessary protection for all public benefits of the public forest estate are in place.

“This will not affect the commitment to sell 15% of the public forest estate over the next four years and has no impact on the ongoing consultation on the remaining 85% of the public forest estate.”

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