`Privatisation' of Snowdonia not on, Redwood declares

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John Redwood yesterday denied he had plans to "privatise Snowdonia" (above) as Labour MPs seized on leaked documents from the Countryside Council for Wales to claim that it faces budget cuts which will curtail wildlife protection, writes Nicholas Timmins. With the council's activities under review, Peter Hain, the MP for Neath, claimed the Secretary of State for Wales "is discussing with the Countryside Council for Wales proposals to privatise over 50 nature reserves and savagely to cut wildlife protection".

Mr Redwood flatly denied that, saying that "if the story is true that the council is working on `privatising Snowdonia' and allowing sites of special scientific interest to deteriorate, then they are wasting public money and time in doing so, as I will not accept such advice. I have never asked them to do so". Mr Redwood, who is to meet the council today, said he was examining areas where democratically elected local government might be able to do the job instead of the council.

The council insisted that suggestions that it was proposing privatisation of Welsh nature reserves was "a complete misunderstanding".

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