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Anger growing on land sell-off plans

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman is facing mounting pressure over plans to sell-off swathes of public-owned forest.

MERIDEN MP Caroline Spelman is facing mounting pressure over plans to sell-off swathes of public-owned forest.

In her toughest test since she was made Environment Secretary last year, Mrs Spelman has been trying to defend the controversial proposals.

Over 250,000 people have signed a petition against the £250m sell-off - the biggest change in land ownership for over 80 years.

Karl Macnaughton, from Chelmsley Wood Green Party, said there was widespread concern about plans.

“People are worried, you only have to look at the woodland we’ve lost locally like Chelmsley Wood and the Forest of Arden,” he said.

“We’re worried that huge areas of forest will be turned into hotel resorts or housing developments.

“Why would a private company buy-up this land unless there was some profit to be made from it?”

Plans announced last week could see up to 2,500 sq km of forest sold-off over the next decade.

Conservation groups worry this could see large tracts of land become off-limits to members of the public.

The proceeds will help plug a hole in DEFRA’s budget - the department will see spending slashed by 30 per cent by 2015.

Solihull MP Lorely Burt said that she’d had a lot of comments from constituents about the matter.

“It’s important to say that this isn’t a cynical way of making money and the majority of forests are already privately owned,” she said.

Mrs Spelman said it was “time for the Government to step back” from forest management.

“We will make sure that public access is maintained and biodiversity protected,” she said.

 

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