As you may have noticed, there is a Government consultation out on the selling off of forests currently controlled by the Forestry Commission. I’ve been following the forests debate (and signed the massive petition at 38 Degrees despite slight annoyance at their oversimplification of the issues (I’m not sure anyone is proposing that forests be ‘turned into golf courses and holiday villages’), but not yet been moved to post on here about it as it’s such a clear-cut issue. I’m in favour of local ownership of local assets, but forests aren’t like the local community hall, cooperative shop or waste-to-energy plant: they provide larger-than-local benefits and so should be owned at a larger-than-local level. Sure, it isn’t best practice to have the same body owning assets and also regulating that ownership, but this could be gotten around by creating another QUANGO – if anyone honestly thought it was that big a problem. Even before you discover that the move would result in a net loss to the Exchequer, the argument’s pretty much won.

But when I read my dad’s letter to his local MP on the subject, I wanted to post it here as I think he’s encapsulated the way in which this issue has angered – and mystified – a broader range of people than usual.

To: Stephen Williams MP, Bristol West

Mr Williams,

I am a resident of Bristol West and below are my views on the sale of Forestry Land proposed by your government.

As background, I would like you to know that although I have strong (mainly liberal) opinions on many subjects, I tend to view political policy decisions in a holistic manner. I could have written to you about many Government policies that I disagreed with, for example the government policy on tuition fees which in my opinion is short-sighted, but I give the Government the benefit of the doubt on economic grounds. The point I am trying to make is that I am not a serial activist.

Having heard and read about the proposal to sell and/or lease English Forests I cannot see any economic or environmental justification for the proposed sale. I therefore question the motive behind this proposal. My belief is that the motive is Tory ideology at best or subtle corruption at worst. In terms of public enjoyment of our heritage and the Environment it is likely to be a disaster in the long term. I have spent 30 years building and running a successful business and this experience leads me to believe that greed will undermine other considerations, probably long after you and I have gone. The simple well tested solution is to leave all Forests in public ownership. Let our Tory friends find other ways to satisfy their greed.

Your website is silent on this subject and therefore I wish you to take my view into consideration when representing Bristol West in Government and in Parliament.

As my MP, I urge you to represent my views as best you can. I will continue to oppose this proposal in every way I can.


Mehboob Neky

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