Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

report: A VICTORY FOR HOOF?

In A.Graham on January 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm

There was pageantry, drama – and cheers – for HOOF supporters who gathered in the dark for their torch-lit parade around Mallard’s Pike on November 5th. Whilst others elsewhere may have been letting off their seasonal fireworks, those up in the Forest were there to highlight and protest against the threatened rape of our woodlands.

hoof

LIGHTING UP THE FOREST:

The hundreds taking part threaded their way round the lake, lit only by flickering lanterns and torches. There were dogs and children taking part – as well as a large paper effigy of an owl and a Chinese dragon. Music was provided by Roger Drury – a spirited adaptation of “This Land is Our Land” – and there were speeches from Rich Daniels (chair of HOOF) and Owen Adams, HOOF’s secretary.

The demonstration coincided with a debate in the House of Lords, on the controversial Infrastructure Bill, in which an amendment was put forward by Baroness Jan Royall to remove forestry land from the body of the legislation. This was to ensure that areas like the Forest of Dean would be saved from the threat of sale to developers, and all that that would entail.

THREAT REMOVED?

It was only after the demonstrators had dispersed that the news came through that the Government had agreed to the exemption of forestry land from the Bill. It was, it seems, a time for all those who care about our Forest to celebrate. But it remains a time for continued vigilance.

According to a statement sent out by Owen Adams, the Government has asserted that its amendment to the Bill would protect the entire public forest estate.

The amendments prevent the transfer of any land held by the Secretary of State that has been acquired – remember, this is government-owned land – or is treated as having been acquired under Section 39 of the Forestry Act 1967. … that covers all land that is under the management of the Forestry Commissioners at any given time, and includes any land that is not being used for afforestation but is still under the management of the Forestry Commissioners .

The provision is widely drawn. It includes forest waste, together with the kind of ancillary facilities that are necessary.  It simply has to be under the management of the Forestry Commissioners.

So far so good. But as Owen Adams  points out, “we will have to keep a very close eye on it (ie. the Infrastructure Bill), and the debates in the House of Commons.”

find out the latest – please visit: www.handsoffourforest.org

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