Ramblers to fight sell-off of forests

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

WALKERS are being urged to fight any moves to privatise the Forestry Commission.

Alan Mattingly, director of the Ramblers' Association, is asking its 90,000 members to write to John Major about the issue.

Sir Hector Monro, the Scottish Office minister, told the Commons in May that the Government had made a firm commitment not to privatise the commission. But Mr Mattingly said: 'We have learned that ministers in other government departments are still seeking to privatise the commission.

'A recent letter from John Gummer, the Agriculture Minister, to the Scottish Secretary revealed that Mr Gummer is keen to 'raise money and get the forest estate out of the public sector'.'

In the association's magazine Rambling Today, Mr Mattingly says measures introduced last October to protect access to private forests are not working. He says more than 100 woods and forests, about 12,350 acres (5,000 hectares), have been advertised for sale in the last nine months.