Campaigners’ tree-mendous battle to stop sell-off

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GOVERNMENT plans to sell-off England’s public forests have been met with dismay by campaigners in the Scarborough area.

Last Thursday, a public consultation was launched detailing four options for the disposal of the public forest estate which includes Dalby Forest, Cropton Forest and woods in Gilling, near Helmsley.

But a growing number of campaigners are adamant that a sale would make it more difficult for the public to access woodland and, without the good work and expertise of the Forestry Commission, biodiversity and forests would be threatened.

Adrian Carter, managing director of Pace Cycles which is based in Dalby Forest, said his thoughts are the same as a recent poll which showed that 85 per cent of people quizzed wanted the Forestry Commission kept as it is – and for good reason.

He said: “The Forestry Commission not only manage the forest commercially to gain income and offset costs but, very carefully in my mind, manage that commercial side of the forest very much in sympathy with the recreation use of the forest and also the forest and fauna and the wildlife that live in the forest. I say they strike a great balance.”

And the service provided by the Forestry Commission is relatively cheap too, it is argued by David Beeley, of Big Bear Bikes in Pickering. “As an outdoor person, I think the forests we have got now and the state it is in is a jewel in the crown,” he said. “Over the last 10 years, the Forestry Commission has worked very hard to reduce the cost to the nation and at the moment its about £10 million per year – it costs £70 million to run but brings in £60 million – about 30 pence to every taxpayer.”