‘Please don’t sell off Salcey Forest’

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FOREST users in Northamptonshire have urged the public to write to their MPs to back an Early Day Motion (EDM) to oppose the mass sell-off of the country’s woodlands.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas has called the motion in a bid to tackle what she has called a ‘threat to forests.’ Opposition to the sales is also growing within forest user groups and an online petition group has been set up, while organisations such as the National Trust and Woodland Trust have also voiced concern.

Around 650 acres of woodland in Northamptonshire appeared on the Forestry Commission’s sales 2010/11 list, including Priesthay Wood (16.0 acres), near Towcester, and Whitfield Wood (93.2 acres), near Brackley, and there is increasing concern about the future of Salcey Forest.

Steve Falder, a Salcey Forest user, said: “The forests of England belong to the people of England. We do not allow the government to sell off our natural heritage. The former Royal Forest of Salcey is the lungs of South Northamptonshire.

“Salcey has been enjoyed by local communities for generations and should be enjoyed for generations to come. The sale of our much-loved woodland is the sale of an irreplaceable asset by a government that appears to know the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

MP for South Northamptonshire, Andrea Leadsom, said she had received hundreds of letters about the future of Salcey Forest already but said she was against EDMs in principal because of the cost to the taxpayer.

She said: “Leaving the forests in the hands of the Forestry Commission is not necessarily the right thing for all forests. I have been impressed by the commission in their allowing the development of public facilities in Salcey but there are other forests which could be improved by these changes and I don’t think people should see this as a threat to forests.

“This is being carefully thought through and there is a consultation going on that people can contribute to.”

A petition against the forest sales is at: www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/ save-our-forests