United Kingdom government does U-turn on forest sell-off

Back on January 27 we reported that the government of the United Kingdom was planning on selling all of England’s publicly owned forests. Well, the English love their heritage (at least those English outside the government) and there was a huge public outcry. Half a million people signed a petition in opposition to the plan. Now the Guardian reports the government has backed down.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman stood up before Parliament and apologized for her “wrong” decision. The forests will not be sold and new laws allowing them to be will be struck from the books. The previous law allowed for 15 percent of forests to be sold, and Ms. Spelman wasn’t clear what would happen to the forests recently put on the auction block. Apparently this isn’t a complete victory for sanity.

The sale would have affected all forests owned by the Forestry Commission in England but not the rest of the UK. The Commission owns 18 percent of all forests in England. Now the Environment Secretary will have to find another way to slash her department spending by a third, the goal she set for herself.

[Photo courtesy user tomhab via Wikimedia Commons]