Sunday, 24 October 2010

Forestry Commission sell-off

Both the Telegraph yesterday and today's Independent report that Westminster's Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is forcing the Forestry Commission to sell about half its estate. DEFRA under Caroline Spelman was one of the biggest losers in the Comprehensive Spending Review and these land holdings must have seemed like an easy target. But it appears that this government is going further: laws which allow natural regeneration in some ancient woods and forests in England are to be set aside to make sites more attractive to leisure facility developers.

The effects on Wales are unclear. My reading of the devolution settlement is that responsibility for woodland here was transferred to the Welsh Assembly, to be held in trust for the nation. This is reinforced by Elin Jones's preamble to the 2010-2013 Corporate Plan "Our purpose and direction" (45-page pdf) by Forestry Commission Wales. However, "responsibility" and legal title are separate matters. In any case, there will no doubt be pressure from London for Wales to follow the Westminster line. There should be an early statement from WAG to set our minds at rest.


Frank Little said...

Even the Thatcherite Guido Fawkes hosts a cartoon slamming the sell-off.

Radical Wales said...

Wales should be unaffected by this, but WAG might be tempted to follow suit.