MP votes against plans to sell off woodland

Mike Hancock MP
Mike Hancock MP
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MP Mike Hancock has voted against government plans to sell state-owned woodland.

The Liberal Democrat representative for Portsmouth South was among 260 MPs who backed a Labour motion calling on the government to rethink its proposals, which was defeated by 310 votes last night – a majority of 50.

A government amendment backing a recently-launched 12-week consultation – to see how ownership and management of 18 per cent of England’s woodland could be transferred from the Forestry Commission to private firms – was passed by passed by 301 votes to 253.

The government insists the woodland would not be sold to the highest bidders and the land would remain under tight constraints.

But Mr Hancock fears selling off woodland – which could include part of the Forest of Bere near Wickham – could lead to increases in parking charges and concessions.

He said: ‘In the end this will be abandoned. The government will back off. It is a 12-week consultation, we are in the first week and already over half a million people are against it. It really smacks of illogicality to pursue a policy that’s so manifestly unpopular.

‘People just don’t trust the idea that people who would take over our woodlands will look after them and not seek to make money out of them.’