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To: House of Lords

Amend the Infrastructure Bill to exclude forests and limit land sales to surplus land

This Campaign has now ended

Amend the Infrastructure Bill to exclude forests and limit land sales to surplus land

I support the amendments to Clause 21 of the Infrastructure Bill proposed by LORD DAVIES OF OLDHAM, LORD MCKENZIE OF LUTON and BARONESS ROYALL OF BLAISDON which would completely exempt the Public Forest Estate from sale under this bill and limit land sales to "surplus" public land. I call on the government to bring forward legislation implementing the recommendations of the Independent Panel on Forestry to govern the management of our forests.

Why is this important?

The Infrastructure Bill is a rag-bag of proposals that we were told would just tidy up a few loose ends. Instead, it makes major changes in a number of critical areas, not just in the sale of public land. This petition is about Clause 21, which in its current form enables the transfer of any public land through the Homes and Communities Agency to developers. No doubt other campaigns will oppose other parts of the bill, especially the section on fracking which has not yet been published. Members of the House of Lords have already talked about these problem ands proposed amendments that will improve the bill. You can find out more here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/infrastructure.html

The Government has given assurances that the Public Forest Estate is not included in current land sale schemes, and that this will be made clear later. But I think that we need to see it spelt out in the primary legislation - the Infrastructure Bill - and if the Government is truely determined to manage our woodlands properly, it will accept these amendments.

I live in the Forest of Dean, and we have particular concerns around the loss of public access when public land is sold. Our forest is not "ancient" - it's a working Forest, producing timber, fuel and food - but we need those rights to maintain our way of life and culture. Some Foresters have historic rights to mine coal or graze sheep in the Forest, and without access these rights will die. But even if you only visit woodlands for fun, the loss of access could affect your quality of life and your mental and physical health.

Selling off forests would also threaten biodiversity in this country - for example, wild bees survive better in wooded areas, perhaps because of lower levels of pesticides. Forests also reduce the risk of flooding and drought, because they absorb heavy rain and release it slowly into their surroundings, and of course they absorb CO2 as well, both in the trees and in the soil. For all these reasons, it is really important that we retain our woodlands and plant new ones.

In 2011, the threatened disposal of our public forests and woodlands was prevented when the Public Bodies Bill was amended, as part of a spectacular climb-down by the government. This was followed by a massive public consultation and the publication of the report from the Independent Panel on Forestry (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-panel-on-forestry-final-report), that should have resulted in legislation to protect our forests permanently – but that never happened. So once again we need to make sure a Bill is amended to protect our treasured public woodlands and public land. The Independent Panel on Forestry Final Report would allow the sale of genuinely "surplus" forestry land but proposes a reasonable set of safeguards that would protect our forests from excessive development.

You can see the all the proposed amendments to the Infrastructure Bill here: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2014-15/infrastructure/documents.html and looking at the "Amendment papers" section.


Reasons for signing

  • Do not let the government steal public land for profit. Our woodlands, common lands, parks and forests must be protected for future generations. Public land belongs to all of us. It does not belong to the government. This is theft.
  • Outrageous abuse of powers to put through this bill. Coupled with the Land Registry sale, public land is vulnerable.
  • Because our local MP is interested only in following his party line and that does not necessary help his constituents.

Updates

2014-07-12 14:57:35 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2014-07-07 17:08:29 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2014-07-07 16:35:11 +0100

500 signatures reached

2014-07-05 09:29:59 +0100

100 signatures reached

2014-07-04 18:24:49 +0100

50 signatures reached

2014-07-04 16:46:33 +0100

25 signatures reached

2014-07-04 16:16:38 +0100

10 signatures reached