Call to secure future of forests

Calls were growing last night for the nation’s forests and woodland to be fully protected to prevent their future being thrown into doubt again and their natural environment put at risk.

It followed an embarrassing U-turn by the coalition government over controversial plans to privatise England’s forests, which caused a public outcry, with environment secretary Caroline Spelman telling the Commons: “I am sorry. We got this one wrong.”

Ms Spelman, saying she took full responsibility for the climbdown just 24 hours after David Cameron himself voiced concerns about how the plans were progressing, said she was removing powers to push forward legislation to open up the way to a sell-off and announced that an independent panel was being established to review forestry policy.

Last night South West Norfolk Tory MP Elizabeth Truss admitted the proposals had highlighted the fact there were not enough safeguards for England’s woodlands. She said: “I want to see something as valuable as Thetford Forest more secure in the future.”