The British government, headed by Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, has tossed out a controversial proposal to sell off significant sections of its forest to the private sector. The plan came under relentless criticism, including 500,000 people who signed a petition against the proposal, and brought together a wide variety of British notables such as actress Dame Judi Dench, poet Carol Anne Duffy, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to oppose the government’s plan.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was contrite when she appeared in front of members of the British parliament.
“I’m sorry. We got this one wrong, but we have listened to people’s concerns,” she said, as reported by the Guardian adding that, “if there is one clear message from this experience, it is that people cherish their forests and woodlands and the benefits they bring. My first priority throughout this period of debate has been securing a sustainable future for our woodlands and forests.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband hit back: “Virtually every person in the country could see selling off our forests was a foolish and short-sighted policy but they went ahead regardless.”
David Babbs, head of 38 Degrees, the campaign group that collected half a million signatures, told Reuters: “Some say signing petitions and emailing (Members of Parliament) never changes anything. But it did this time. This is what people-power looks like, and over half a million of us are feeling very proud.”
An independent panel will now investigate the future of the UK government-owned forests. The British government owns about 18% of the UK’s woodland. Currently, around 12% of the country is covered in forest.
(02/15/2011) I confess that British Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposal to auction off all 650,000 acres of England’s national forests to the highest bidder came as a bit of a shock to me – especially as the contained such world-famous national treasures as Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest, the Forest of Dean and the New Forest. Although warned by my Irish mother that Tories can never be trusted, Mr. Cameron’s passionate pledge to deliver the “greenest government ever” seemed sincere, especially given his ambitious plans to cut Britain’s pollution. Anyway, even if he turned out to be as slippery as his predecessors, his deep green Liberal Democratic coalition partners would, I thought, keep the planet high on his priority list.
(11/01/2010) The UK’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced plans to sell up to 150,000 hectares of its forest to the private sector—over half of its forests in England—touching off harsh criticism from environmentalists, including the UK’s Green Party.