Thursday, 17 February 2011

Chopwell and Kielder need better management not sell off

Over the hills from my house is the excellent Chopwell Woods, a Forestry Commission property. It has a great range of walks and is well used. The Christmas fayres there are great and raise money for the active friends group.

Further north, in the constituency I live in, is Kielder forest. It's a massive expanse of managed woodland and is a great place for a break. One of my friends regularly gives talks at the excellent observatory there (it is remote and a great place to watch the stars) and there is a great ferry service around the lake with a wonderful walks and mountain bike trails. So when the news was announced that they were going to be sold off, I joined MPs such as my local Tory MP Guy Opperman and my friend Tim Farron, Lib Dem MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, in condemning the move.

Now it seems David Cameron has listened and is putting the breaks on the move. I welcome this. There is no doubt that the Forestry Commission is too bureaucratic and doesn't make enough money from its forests. But the thing to do is not to sell off the forests before they can be turned around and the rights of users can be more enshrined. Sometimes governments need to be congratulated when they do a U turn. This is one of them.

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