MP writes to minister over forest sell-off

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MANSFIELD MP Alan Meale is lobbying the Government about its plans to privatise publicly-owned woodlands after being contacted by a “great number” of concerned constituents.

Mr Meale has tabled an Early Day Motion - already signed by Glenda Jackson and local MP Dennis Skinner, among 18 others - expressing his alarm at the proposals to transfer ownership or management of Forestry Commission woodland to charities, community organisations and commercial operators.

He has also written to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Caroline Spelman, seeking reassurance that public access to woodlands will not be restricted by the plans and the flora and fauna of the environment will be protected.

He wrote: “Once a forest has been destroyed there is no going back, it is something that will be lost forever, therefore I ask you to closely examine all the facts before taking any decision on this matter.”

During an opposition debate on the issue in the House of Commons last week, Mr Meale voted with his party to save the forests, along with other local Labour MPs, Ashfield’s Gloria De Piero and Bolsover’s Dennis Skinner.

Sherwood’s Conservative MP Mark Spencer voted with his party for the Government’s plans and said that protections will be put in place to ensure public access to woodlands and the sustainability of their biodiversity.

“It’s something I am watching very closely and if for a second I get a sniff that this is not in the interests of the people of Sherwood then I won’t support it,” he said.