Monthly Archives: September 2014

Selling off the public forests

The threat returns

We are very concerned about proposed new legislation in the Infrastructure Bill.  The government is introducing legislation that will allow ministers to transfer public land to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to enable development.

The Bill contains many elements of great concern.  For the Forest Campaigns Network (FCN) it’s the risk to the public forest estate (PFE) from the power contained in the Bill to transfer public land to the HCA.  We are fighting hard to change the legislation to include exemption for the PFE.

We need to persuade the government to insert words within this proposed new law, which would confirm our public forests cannot be included in these land-transfer schemes.  So far the government is refusing to amend the Bill to keep our forests safe.  The government have said ‘it is not their intention’ so they don’t need to exempt the PFE.  Crown land, owned by the Queen, is exempted in the Bill.  If there is ‘no intention’ as applies to crown land why not exempt the PFE?  This government’s intention is not relevant:  it’s the future impact of the bill used by any government which could be used to transfer parts of the PFE to the HCA.

The door will be left wide open for our forest land to be disposed of by any future government if we do not succeed in stopping this now.  The House of Lords meets next to consider the Infrastructure Bill in October: our next opportunity to persuade the Government to do the right thing.

We believe this is a serious and real risk to the PFE.  We are lobbying the Lords to back amendments tabled by Baroness Jan Royall to exempt the PFE.  So far the government have only made “verbal” statements that have no weight.  The only solution is an exemption for the PFE from the Infrastructure Bill.

Forest of Dean campaigners at HOOF have produced a template letter to send to Lords which is suitable for all public woodlands across the country (see www.handsoffourforest.org/documents/Infrastructure_bill_letter.pdf).  We recommend you send letters and emails to crossbenchers, bishops and non-party-affiliated Lords and Ladies.  Some of their emails can be found here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/
You can also get information on Lords here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/peers/
And on writing to lords here: https://www.writetothem.com/about-lords
And here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/lords/whos-in-the-house-of-lords/get-in-touch-with-members/.

Key information:
You can email an individual member at contactholmember@parliament.uk or using their individual email address listed in the Members of the House of Lords section.

Please note that if more than six copies of the same email are received, all will be deleted.  It’s therefore important that you change the template letter to put in your own views and experiences.

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