Woodland could be sold

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THE future of parts of Sherwood Forest is in jeopardy after the Government announced plans to sell off some of the England’s woodland.

Ministers have asked the Forestry Commission to raise £100m by privatising ‘assets’ in a bid to reduce the country’s deficit over the next four years.

It translates into the sale of roughly 15 per cent of the public forest estate, which is approximately 40,000 hectares nationwide.

The Forestry Commission controls Sherwood Pines – the largest public woodland in the East Midlands which covers 3,300 acres.

Regional coordinator for Friends of the Earth Mary Button said it was a move that signalled ‘profit over preservation’.

She added: “I think it is terrible.”

“It is like auctioning off the Crown Jewels and shows complete ‘short-termism’.”

“Lots of local people use these open spaces and woodlands and we’re worried about a loss of access to them.”

“It will play a huge role for dog walkers and people who like the open air.”

Sherwood Pines, located close to Edwinstowe, is home to much wildlife including Fallow Deer and nocturnal birds such as Nightjars.

Last year it hosted gigs for pop sensations McFly and ‘The Modfather’ Paul Weller.

The British Heart Foundation also hold their annual bike ride there to raise funds for the charity.

The Pines are part of Sherwood Forest, the legendary home of folk hero Robin Hood.

Mary said selling off the land was like “robbing from the poor to pay for the rich”.

“They are having some thought about some of the plans to balance the economy, which is challenging their ideas.”

“I would encourage people to take action and let their voice to be heard.”

“This land should not be up for sale. It is a dangerous step because the land could be managed by people who will build.”

“We should not be selling something of such importance, which is regularly used by the local community,” she added.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have today (Thursday) launched a consultation paper to determine the future of the further 85 per cent of the land currently under public control.

It will detail four options for the disposal of the rest of the public forest estate.

Consultation will allow the public to suggest different approaches to owning and managing the remaining public woods and forests.

The outcome could lead to the biggest change in land ownership since the Second World War.

Laws governing Britain’s forests were included in the Magna Carta of 1215, with some dating back even earlier.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann said: “Our forests are hugely popular national gems and need to be properly cared for.”

“The Government are showing again a huge lack of respect for our heritage.”

“I oppose any plans that will cut access to our countryside.”