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MP safeguards future of our forests

3rd February 2011
Gordon Henderson MP: Safeguarding the future of our forests

Local MP, Gordon Henderson, has reassured residents in Sittingbourne and Sheppey that he will scrutinise carefully the Government’s decision to look at ownership of the Public Forest Estate and will vote against any proposal to lease out any forest or woods unless continued public access is guaranteed.

The Government is consulting on the future of the nation’s forests. It is looking at whether the heritage forests would be better run by charitable trusts, whether communities would be interested in running areas of local woodland and whether state-owned woodland which is already set aside for commercial use would be more effectively and more efficiently run by private investors.

Mr Henderson said,

“I have no problem with the Government consulting about who is best placed to own and manage our forests and what role there can be for government, communities, charitable trusts and the private sector. However, it is important that the consultation is real consultation and not a cosmetic exercise.

“It is also right to end the irresponsible practice of selling woodland without adequate protections which took place under the previous Government.

“The Government has made clear that, without exception, rights of public access will be guaranteed, heritage forests protected, communities put first and biodiversity preserved.

“I would like to reassure my constituents that I will scrutinise carefully the Public Bodies Bill as it goes through Parliament to ensure that those Government promises are enshrined in law.

“In particular, if I am not satisfied that continued access is subject to a legally binding guarantee, then I will vote against the Bill.”

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