Sherwood Pines future in doubt

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CONCERNS have been expressed at the Government’s decision to sell off the nation’s woodland – which includes parts of Sherwood Forest.

Consultation to discuss how to dispose of 258,000 hectares of land nationwide, currently managed by the Forestry Commission began last week.

The move has thrown into doubt the future of Sherwood Pines, close to Edwinstowe, as Ministers bid to tackle the country’s deficit.

The National Trust, who maintain Clumber Park, insisted that any change of ownership must protect public access to woodlands.

The Trust has also sent a set of principles to Government in an attempt to safeguard the land.

Land use director David Riddle said funding will be crucial to ensure the work already done by the Forestry Commission is continued.

He added: “Any transfer of publicly owned woodland must safeguard its public access and conservation value, including its cultural importance.”

“Unless the Government can guarantee this, without reducing the resources already available to conservation organisations, we believe some sites should remain in public care.”

Mr Riddle stated it could mean an increase in competition for grants.

The privatisation of 40,000 hectares of land nationwide has already been pushed through by Ministers, who hope the sale will raise £100m.

The Pines is the largest public woodland in the East Midlands – covering 3,300 acres – and managed by the Forestry Commission.

Notts County Council have confirmed that Sherwood Forest’s Major Oak is safe.

Woodland Trust chief executive Sue Holden stated public forests need better protection.

“We are disappointed that there is no commitment to restore damaged ancient woods currently in public ownership,” she said.

But Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “It’s time for the Government to step back and allow those who are most involved with England’s woodlands to play a much greater role in their future.”

To have your say visit www.defra.gov.uk or email Bassetlaw MP John Mann on mannj@parliament.uk