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.
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...