Forest staff want complete sale withdrawal

Forest staff want complete sale withdrawal

Specialist workers at the Forestry Commission have welcomed the statement by environment secretary Caroline Spelman that sales of forestry land will be put on hold pending a review of criteria for sale.

However, Prospect warned that nothing short of a complete U-turn on the sale of land would protect England’s forests and the wider timber industry.

Prospect negotiator Malcolm Currie said: “We welcome the fact that the government is thinking again, in the light of the near-universal chorus of opposition to the plans from all sectors of the community.

“We trust that the review will lead to a concrete decision to cancel its plans and is not a cheap tactic to buy time by playing a long game and hoping the opposition will die down.

“Opponents of the sell-off need to stay on alert for any backsliding by the government or an announcement being slipped out in six months’ time.”

Currie added that the Public Bodies Bill enables the government to amend the Forestry Commission’s statutory and wider functions at will. “While that is still on the cards, the dangers are still there, regardless of any review.”

Prospect’s 270 specialist members in the Commission include senior managers, scientists, librarians, photographers, researchers and other specialists.