Forests sale 'within four years'
Sales of 15% of England's public forests will go ahead within the next four years, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said today.
The sales, expected to raise £100 million for the Environment Department (Defra), were suspended amid a row over plans to dispose of the rest of the forest estate.
Mrs Spelman said she was concerned the terms of selling the 15% - the maximum allowed to be sold under current rules - did not provide adequate protection for access and other public benefits.
But she told MPs on the Environment Select Committee that the sales would go ahead within the spending review, which runs to 2015, and the delay would not hit Defra's budget.
She said the funding had been "anticipated but not allocated".
And once protection for access and other benefits of woodland had been addressed, "the planned sales will be in a position to resume within the period of the spending review, and won't have an impact on expenditure", she said.
The Environment Secretary also defended the consultation on plans to dispose of the remainder of the public forest estate to businesses, charities and communities which provoked widespread anger.
She said previous governments had already been selling off the public forests.
"I simply thought it was right to give the public the chance to be consulted about the future of the forest estate."
The consultation was abandoned last month in the face of widespread opposition to the plans.
Shortly before the consultation was dropped, the previously announced sales of 15% of public forests were suspended over concerns about protecting the benefits they provide.
An independent panel has now been set up to examine the future of England's forests.
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Rape threats, death threats and a police investigation after video poking fun at an Islamic Party in Malaysia goes viral
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Jeremy Clarkson to become 'special adviser on transport' to David Cameron
Exploding head syndrome: One-fifth of US college students suffer from ailment, study finds
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...
£10000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of staffing and r...
£19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court is seeking...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the four inns of Court i...