The Government is currently doing “public consultation” on its proposed sell off of some publicly owned land. Ultimately it’s to save money as DEFRA (Dept for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) has been tasked with cutting its budget significantly.
Polls are showing that 75% of us are against this and I am not going to echo all the well put arguments against that are in the public domain but I have got a couple of things to say.
There are disastrous precedents for selling off the nations “crown jewels”, the coastline being a prime example. I have lost count of the times when I am out running or cycling and have to take a detour inland because of a stretch of privatised coast. I abhor the fact that we can’t walk along the boundary of our country and it is taking the National Trust many millions of pounds and decades to buy our, and I stress our coastline back.
We don’t seem to learn. We are still in a financial hole caused by excessive and irresponsible mortgage lending that led to unsustainable over inflated house prices, a repeat of a “bubble” that had caused similar problems in the 80s. We all witness “planning creep”, whereby land that should never be built on gets change of use by stealth and sharp lawyers. We bemoan the loss of independent retailers and corner shops in our towns and cities, whilst allowing (and frequenting) the big chains to supplant them. Councils moan about the homogenisation of their town centres and loss of serendipity, yet it is often as a result of councils selling off property and land to pension funds who are one iota about contributing to “clone town Britain”.
In the long run any money saved now will quite likely be spent, and more, to buy back the woodlands as they are failed to be looked after. Britain has “previous”.
We are going to need laws and legal agreements more thorough than history often shows governments are capable of establishing if this isn’t going to end in another “weren’t we stupid”, in the way that weren’t we stupid to let Beecham close all those railways in the 60s.
Some things should be for the public good and our woodlands are one of those things.