A CAMPAIGNER is ‘relieved and thrilled’ after the Government scrapped plans to sell-off Delamere Forest.
Independent advisors say they believe England’s public-owned forests – including the Cheshire beauty spot – should not be sold off.
A report published yesterday by the Independent Panel on Forestry, which was set up to advise the Government on how the country’s woodland should be run, described the public forest estate as ‘a national asset’.
Their findings have been welcomed by campaigner Robin Ackerley who spearheads Save Delamere Forest action group.
The expert panel was established last year by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman after she shelved plans to sell-off 40,000 hectares of England’s publicly-owned forests in the face of huge opposition, which included a protest at Delamere Forest.
Following the publication of the report, Mrs Spelman has confirmed the forests will remain in ‘public hands’.
Mr Ackerley said: “We knew all along that this was a non-starter.
“The reaction by the public, I think, took the Government by surprise. It even took us by surprise.
“I’d like to thank all our supporters for their help.
“We’re relieved and thrilled, it’s very positive what the panel have done.”
The panel’s chair, the Right Rev Bishop James Jones said: “We have consulted widely, visited woods and forests around the country and read over 42,000 submissions.
“There is untapped potential within England’s woodlands to create jobs, to sustain skills and livelihoods, to improve the health and wellbeing of people and to provide better and more connected places for nature.
“Government investment is now needed to kick start these changes which will repay itself many times over in terms of public benefit.”
To read the full report visit www.defra.gov.uk/forestrypanel/reports.