Delight as forests set to be saved from sell-off in government U-turn

SAVED Queen's Inclosure in Cowplain was due to be sold off before the latest government U-turn
SAVED Queen's Inclosure in Cowplain was due to be sold off before the latest government U-turn
Fellow student Bethany Toon, 17, with Bruce Wetherill, 25, at St Vincent College, Gosport  Picture: Neil Marshall (171028-16)

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FAMILIES are celebrating the government’s apparent U-turn over plans to sell off forests and woodland to raise cash.

An official announcement was expected today after Prime Minister David Cameron admitted during parliamentary questions on Wednesday that the unpopular plans to sell of 258,000 hectares across the UK were to be scrapped.

Under the proposals, the ownership and management of the 18 per cent of England’s woodland run by the Forestry Commission would have been up for sale. A 12-week consultation started last month now looks likely to be abandoned.

At Hundred Acre Woods in Wickham, which is part of the historic Forest of Bere, Lindsey Neaves from The Keep in Portchester was out with her two children, Emily and Daniel.

She said: ‘I signed the petition against the plans and emailed my MP twice, but didn’t get any reply. I’m glad they seem to have listened.’

And her friend Karen Ellwood, from Alton Grove in Portchester, who was there with daughter Camilla, added: ‘I was very surprised when he even suggested it in the first place with so many other cuts going on. Maybe people making a huge fuss has actually had an impact.’

Childminder Serena Rowland, from Waltham Chase, was there with two colleagues and their young charges and said: ‘It’s a great place for the children and we were worried that we would lose it if it was closed.

‘I wish they would think things through before they make these big announcements.’ Mick and Lynda Wallace of The Mead in Bridgemary, visited with their grandchildren. Mrs Wallace said: ‘I thought the plans were diabolical. To be able to get the youngsters out somewhere like this is wonderful and I’m glad we won’t lose it.’

Posters put up at the Hundred Acres play park, warning visitors that the woods were for sale, have now been removed.

As well as Hundred Acres Wood, other parts of the Forest of Bere stretching as far across as Rowlands Castle, and including Queens Inclosure at Cowplain were also under threat.

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