The programme of forestry sales announced in the Spending Review in October 2010 will be temporarily suspended until extra protections on access and biodiversity are put in place. Once this has happened, the sales will go ahead.
This only applies to the 15% of the public forestry estate referred to in the Spending Review. It is not connected to the ongoing consultation on the future management of the other 85% of the public forest estate which Defra announced on 27 January. This open and genuine consultation will continue until 21 April 2011 and is unaffected by today’s announcement.
The temporary suspension of the Spending Review sales programme is a technical change to ensure that the right framework and robust criteria are in place to meet the commitment from Ministers to protect the public benefits of the forest estate
In a written statement to Parliament, Caroline Spelman said:
“As in previous years, the selection criteria for land in the Forestry Commission England’s forthcoming assets sales programme were published on 27 January. In light of the Government commitment to increase protection for access and public benefit in our woodlands, the criteria for these sales will be reviewed so that protections are significantly strengthened following the inadequate measures that were applied to sales under the previous administration. Pending this review, no individual woodland site will be put on the market.”