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Sale of England’s public forests – is there a financial benefit?

3 February 2011

In controversial plans, the Government proposes to dispose of 258,000 hectares of Forestry Commission land.

On 27 January 2011 a consultation process was started to discuss the future ownership and management of the public forests; land currently managed by the Forestry Commission. As part of this consultation process an impact assessment has been published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). This assessment highlights that in some situations the cost of leasing the land could outweigh the savings. In the case of the Kielder Forest, the cost could be as much as £23.6 million more than the amount saved.

There has been considerable discussion about the possible negative environmental and social impact of the sales. It now appears that the financial elements of the proposals, the one area which appeared to be a guaranteed benefit, may not be so positive.

What is clear is that the Government will need to carefully consider it’s proposals and make sure that the benefits outweigh the burdens.

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