Have your say …

I created this poll several weeks before the Government was due to launch a public consultation on their proposals to sell-off the public forest estate in England (read more).  I thought it would be interesting to ask visitors to my weblog the simple question: should the State own forests in England?  Now that the consultation has been published, it’s still not too late to have your say here …

Gabriel Hemery


  1. Hmmm would the strapline of “hands off our forest” be more honest if it said: “A campaign to keep the Forest of Dean out of charitable hands”?

  2. The government hasn’t reckoned on how important ‘All’ the forests are to the people. Not just the Forest of Dene, which I must say is a magnificent forest worthy of a long and publicly owned future. Along with all the other forests in the UK of course.

  3. Hi Gabriel, I realise the Government has already made its decision, as it is the White Paper it is due to “consult” on and has bypassed the traditional Green Paper altogether. It also had no consultation on the Public Bodies Bill, which (if passed in its current form) will not even give Parliament the opportunity to discuss sell-off bids.

    As for your reference to petitioning sites that don’t seek to provide people with accurate information – I hope you are not including Hands Off Our Forest, which I am involved with. We may not have been privy to the consultation document from October that was pulled at the last minute, as you apparently were (though we did hear rumours about there being no option to keep forests public), but we have put in many hours to ensure we are giving people accurate information. Only in our first story, in which we reported what the Telegraph and other broadsheets claimed, did we mention golf courses, for instance.

    Our MP and junior minister Mark Harper, on the other hand, has persistently avoided his worried constituents in the Forest of Dean – merely repeatedly quoting supposed assurances given in a letter by Jim Paice and in a Parliamentary debate by Caroline Spelman and engaging in his own small-scale ‘Big Society’ propaganda campaign; while canvassing just one village, he also has refused to meet with his constituents until the consultation has begun and has accused us of hysteria.

    As you can see from our site http://www.handsoffourforest.org Foresters have had many battles over the centuries against enclosure and private ownership, and we are determined to win this one too. I think perhaps the Government hadn’t reckoned on how important our forest is to us.

  4. You seem to be implying the Government and State are the same thing, as on this site you simultaneously ask ‘should the Government own forests in England’ and ‘should the State own forests in England’. The State IS the people, the Government is not. Therefore our forests are not the Government’s to sell – and for the Government to do so is theft from the people, via the State.

    I wonder why you bother asking this question, as in the December 2009 survey you also reference, only 1% thought there should be a reduction in State-owned forests.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comments Owen. Actually you spotted an error in the filename that used ‘Government’ as this reflected an early draft of my post. The post I published rightly used the term State in the main body for the reasons you so kindly point out. I have ammended the filename now so that hopefully there is no further confusion.

      As for why I ask this question: I thought it would be a useful excercise as I have an interesting readership who are generally very well informed. I also hope to provide some useful insights into current debates, unlike some other petitioning sites that are attracting so much traffic at the moment but don’t seek to provide people with accurate information. The 2009 survey was an excercise of the previous Government, therefore totally irrelevant to our current coalition Government!

      Finally, the public consultation will not ask the English public the fundamental question that I have posed here as the Government has already made this decision.

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