Do you remember when the Conservative-led Coalition government relented on its plan to sell off our public forests into private ownership? It was only last November.
Here’s how Vox Political reported it. The article said the then-Infrastructure Bill would give Government agencies carte blanche to hand over any public land – including countryside and forests – to private developers.
But the article said campaigning organisation 38 Degrees had fought off this underhanded plan by the government: “They U-turned and made changes which will mean our forests are protected – in law.”
This was the second attempt by the government to sell off our forests. The first was abandoned in 2011.
Now it seems the Tories want to make it third time lucky.
The Guardian is reporting that there are plans to build luxury holiday cabins, majority-owned by venture capitalists, in public forests, putting protected wildlife and their habitats at risk.
Mark Avery writes: “One of my local woods, Fineshade wood in east Northamptonshire, is owned by me, and you, and every other taxpayer, as it is owned by the Forestry Commission (FC), a non-ministerial government department.
“Despite its wildlife, landscape and wider social value, the FC believes that Fineshade wood is the right place to plonk down 70 luxury holiday cabins, extra roads, and a sewage treatment plant. These would be built and managed by Forest Holidays, a company largely owned by venture capitalists, Lloyds Development Capital, in which the FC (ie you and me) has a small and diminishing holding. The development will be considered by East Northants Council on Wednesday evening.”
Didn’t we all decide, democratically, that this privatisation of our public forests should not happen?
But here it is.
And only days after we heard the Coalition in the House of Lords had voted to overturn regulations that would keep our drinking water safe from the effects of fracking. Greedy little piggies.
Is it time for another 38 Degrees petition? Or have the architects of this betrayal ensured that it is already too late?
Whatever happens, this is further proof that the Tories and the Liberal Democrats don’t believe in democracy.
They knew that the public wanted these forests to be safeguarded forever, but they are allowing them to be sold into private hands anyway.
Why, then, do they want us to – democratically – elect them back into Parliament?
Since they do not believe in democracy, they should not be part of it.
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