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Woodland ‘sale’ U-turn welcomed in Keighley
News the Government will not sell off the country’s woodland has been welcomed.
Ministers have announced they won’t go ahead with plans to sell large chunks of the nation’s 1,000 publicly-owned forests.
Proposals had faced huge opposition from environmental groups, with half a million people signing a petition to keep the woodlands public. An independent panel was set up to look into the plans.
The panel’s recommendations said forests were a “national asset” that should not be sold on, and the amount of public access to forests should actually be increased.
Keighley town councillor, Peter Corkindale, is currently working on a project to create a new footpath from Keighley town centre to Goose Eye, much of which would pass through woods.
He said: “It is brilliant news. If the forests remain in the ownership of the Forestry Commission, then it will ensure the public rights of way continue to exist in forested areas, and remain in use for generations to come rather than being enclosed or fenced in.”
He believes that with woodlands remaining publicly owned, the footpath project is more likely to go ahead.
Alex Gardner, secretary of Keighley Ramblers, said: “We are delighted the Government has listened to popular opinion for once and abandoned its plans to sell off well-loved, publicly-owned woodland.
“When the Ramblers and others point out to them that many local authorities are neglecting to carry out their statutory duties with regard to public rights of way in the countryside because of Government cuts, they refute all responsibility.”
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson also announced the Government would increase funding to the Forestry Commission, and pledged to increase the area of the country covered by woodland.
The woodland estate is believed to be worth £700 million and cost £15 million a year to maintain.