Forest sale plans


27 Jan 2011 4:47PM

Quote:The news is months old for a start


Another reason for it getting talked about again is that the Public Consultation begins today and runs for 12 weeks.

See the Forestry Commission website.

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lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 5:20PM

Quote: injecting a pretty healthy amount to clear the financial problems we are currently encountering.



Quote:Defra hopes to raise 100 million through the sale of 15 per cent of the public forest estate by 2015.

25million a year will not make a dent in the deficit, but I bet the people buying the land made donations to a certain party.
Its all about greed and an obsession with the private sector being more efficient than the public...which is the biggest load of old tosh that has ever been foisted on the public.
John_Frid 14 514 57 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 5:43PM
I don't think that leaving the forests in public ownership is any guarantee that they will be well managed and provide good public access. There are too many examples of where publicly owned assets are appallingly managed.

It would also be niaive to suggest that all private owners will be a good or bad thing either. In reality I suspect that some private owners could do a great job (indeed many already do) and some will be awful.

As I said previously, it matters not who actually owns them, just that they are managed well and in the public interest - in some cases this may best be served by them being publicly owned and in other cases I am sure private ownership could be the best thing.

Whilst I agree that 100 million over 5 years isn't exactly big ticket stuff in the grand scheme of things, to dismiss it completely is perhaps a little a harsh.

Some (myself included) may be inclined to wonder if there is a wider agenda than it being good for the taxpayer. However, that is a seperate (and valid) discussion to whether it is necessarily bad for forests to be in private ownership.
Dave_E 12 125 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:11PM

Quote:I suspect that some private owners could do a great job (indeed many already do)

Do you think this includes those shown on BBC TV over the last weekend that had fenced off ,gated, and locked those same gates to prevent public access to car parks used for access to previously accessible woodland.
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:30PM
One point that is missed off, and that is if the government sell off 15% for 100million, they will also reduce the running costs, guessing 10% seems fair, I'm not niaive enough to think that a 15% shrink = 15% saving.

Take in to consideration that Defra (who the forestry comission answer to) have to cut their budget by 162million it goes some way to reduce the impact of those cuts
AidanT 13 49 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:34PM
I watched Newsnight last night on this subject and one campaigner against the sell off pointed out that forest estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax! So for the rich looking to reduce Death Duties and pass their wealth to the next generation it's a great investment. However that means the tax burden passes to the rest of us.

The Forestry Commission is more than just about walking access, they provide educational facilities for school groups, visitor centres, sculpture parks etc. I pointed this out in an email to my MP. She replied promptly but simply ignored my argument and simply stated she was in favour of selling OUR forests as long as biodiversity was maintainedSad

I do quite a lot of walking in rural areas and I know that if these forests are sold public access and our right to photograph will be curtailed. On quite a few occasions I've come across landowners who have illegally tried to block access on Public Rights of Way and given that so many paths of Forestry Commission land are permissive what chance do members of the public have?

Aidan
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:36PM
And where abouts do these educational events take place?
At the heritage woodlands, which are not going to be sold/
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:37PM

Quote:forest estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax! So for the rich looking to reduce Death Duties and pass their wealth to the next generation it's a great investment. However that means the tax burden passes to the rest of us.


Ahh - there you go. that will be the reason for it then.
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 6:40PM

Quote:forest estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax! So for the rich looking to reduce Death Duties and pass their wealth to the next generation it's a great investment. However that means the tax burden passes to the rest of us.

Ahh - there you go. that will be the reason for it then.



It's only the value of the timber that is exempt, not the value of the land.
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 7:31PM
So you just get a regular tax free income, sounds like a completely unattractive deal.
JohnParminter 13 1.3k 14 England
27 Jan 2011 7:32PM

Quote:
Do you agree with Peter Cairns that photographers who feel strongly about the potential sale of forests should use the images they take to help change minds?



Not for me personally Nik as I don't feel strongly about the potential sale or lease of the public forest estate. I don't have any particular fears over this proposal.

I've read the Government's proposal and spent time filling out the consultation questionaire. The conclusion I have come to for me is this:

I'm not particularly concerned over the reasons why the Gov. want to do this. Perhaps it will save money, perhaps not. There are many parts to the Forestry Commission, two major parts are research and regulatory. They have convinced me that these bodies will stay and function as intended, maybe better? Within the F-C owned or managed estate the F-C are the main operators so in effect they were regulating themselves, in the proposal they will regulate the privately bought or leased woodland, charity or community run woodland.

I have little concern over the future lessened availability of woodland access. I can only accurately speak for the forests and woodlands here in the Lake District where I spend a lot of time walking and running in. There are many established public rights of way such as paths, bridleways and National Trails etc that criss-cross the network of woodland areas, I have no reason to expect these to change.
Most if not all F-C public forest estate is now Open Access Land that was designated in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Again I have no reason to suspect that this right will change if woodland is leased or sold to the private sector.
Private landowners that currently illegally block or bar the route of a right of way is simply just that, an illegal act on their behalf, the public still have a legal right to access and this will still be the case if the public woodland is transfered to private land or lease.

The really important point for me though that doesn't make me fear this proposal is that the wood that I regularly run through from my house has two carpark access points plus numerous gate and stile path entries, has waymarked and well maintained paths and is a small commercial enterprise but is Privately Owned. It has nothing to do with the Forestry Commission but is a well run private conifer commercial wood. Considering that only 18% of England's woodland is owned or managed by the Forestry Commission and that the large proportion of woodland that the public do enjoy is probably privately owned already. After studying the F-C owned or managed woodland in the Lake District, I can safely say that I access more privately owned woodland in my area.

After quite a bit of study, I find it hard for me to argue against their proposals. What would actually happen in practice in some circumstances may be a different thing to what their intentions and proposals are but at the minute I don't have too many objections.

John
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 7:48PM

Quote:So you just get a regular tax free income, sounds like a completely unattractive deal.


No you pay tax on the sales, just not the stock. So you will get a single tax free portion of an estate.

Still we musn't let the truth get in the way of some good old fashioned scaremongering eh?
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 7:53PM
Not scaremongering, just trying to understand what forces are at work to come up with such a daft idea. A government minister said it was not about saving money today, so all we are left with is the "public sector = bad" mentality.
JackAllTog Plus
11 6.1k 58 United Kingdom
27 Jan 2011 8:26PM
Currently council greenbelt round london is being sold off to speculative property developers on the asumption that one day houses will be allowed.
Also potential food shortages mean that arable land cound be very attractive - orchard's maybe even vinyards?

And as some one who has recently found himself banned from taking photo's half way down a street as the pavement became private property i have grave concerns about loss of liberty in forests.

Who are these politicians who sell off our property to their rich friends?
Phil_D 13 81 Scotland
27 Jan 2011 10:11PM
I work as a harvesting forester across both public and private holdings, and this whole story makes my blood boil. Put very simply, there is no corrolation whatsoever between the quality of forest managemnt and the ownership status of a wood. I coul show people bueatifully managed woods from both public and private sector, and i could show you appalling woodlands from both public and private sector. This is a non-issue - a complte red herring.

As for the cost of the FC to the tax payer, this is the lowest estimate i have seen, with the highest at around 1m per day once pension liabilities are included.

Public access is enshrined in law, and again ownership status has no impact. FC routinely close footpaths etc when forestry operations are underway.

Large parts of cannock chase are not owner by FC.

UK forestry is highly regulated (by the FC) and this will continue to be the case.

As for the original question above, i think mr cairns should stick to what he knows, although having met him, i understand that this may prove difficult for him.

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