As I came home today Radio 4 was full of the debate re the Forests sell off - one new issue is that an official Defra report has concluded that selling off England's public forests could cost the nation more than it would save!!!
Photo: Stroud march with banner 'Hands Off Our Forest' - see march here.
According to the Defra report, the proposal to transfer heritage forests – including the New Forest in Hampshire and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire – to a conservation charity would cost £507.9m but yield benefits of only £495.9m. Although the value of these woodlands on the open market is estimated at £220m, the report describes them as "unsellable at a political and practical level" and says the option is therefore "unviable". Selling or leasing the large-scale commercial woodlands would cost between £579.1m and £748.7m but yield benefits of between £573.1m and £737.8m, the document says. Selling the other "community woodlands", valued at £50m, would involve costs of £234.1m and bring in benefits amounting to only £231.9m. See The Independent here.
I have written to Neil Carmichael on this issue - and got a reply this evening saying he will produce a detailed reply soon - of course it is lots more than just the economics of it - how dare Cameron sell our forests. See my letter to press here.