Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | January 19, 2011

UK Government Will Back Down on Forest Sales

Embarrassing information that investors keen to avoid inheritance tax are likely to purchase much of the land the government wants to sell by disbanding the Forestry Commission, means that it is likely the government will retreat from its plan to sell off our heritage. Since no inheritance tax is payable on forestry investment the treasury will actually LOSE money in the long-term from its plan, says Richard Murphy, director of Tax Research LLP. Since the idea has been touted as a plan to help pay off the nation’s debts that argument has now collapsed and revealed it to be an absurdity.

Still – we must keep a watchful eye. Here’s the timetable: there will be the announcement of a ‘public consultation’ within the next month. That will be the time for everyone to make their voices heard (which is why our best course of action now is to inform ourselves so we are ready to respond). At this point the plan may well be dropped. If not, and they foolishly and recklessly decide to proceed, a White Paper will be published in April. That will then have to be debated in the Commons and Lords and how long this will take cannot be determined at this stage. Meanwhile many groups and individuals are making their plans and for every day the government threatens to sell off our national forests it will lose friends in every corner of society: from former road protesters ready to stake their lives on protecting the forests at one end of the scale, through loyal members of groups like the Woodland Trust, the Ramblers Association and the RSPB, through to people who thought they were Tories and that their party would protect their countryside on the other end of the scale.


Responses

  1. Oi! Cameron! Leave those trees alone!

  2. to all politicians i pose this question, where do we take our money when we run out of oxygen??

  3. Well, I hope you’re right and they do back down — as you say they are losing so many friends they really should.

    However we should make as much noise as possible now — no need to wait until the consultation document is issued. All the fuss we made before Christmas made them delay their consultation.

    We have a good idea what it will contain — although we don’t know the detail yet. But it would be better if we stop them even putting in on the details that will cause so much damage.

    We know that the Minister wants to have the ability to sell all of the forests that are currently held publicly for all our benefit. And we know that the government is pushing through the public bodies bill, currently in the House of Lords, which amongst other things allows them to sell off all the forests and change the organisation that runs the and manages woodlands throughout the country.

    The bill has a number of other worrying aspects — mainly the way it allows a minister to make drastic cuts and other changes to public bodies. The unions who work in these public bodies are joining together with people who use their services to tell the government to reconsider. Join us in a rally and mass lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 9 February, 1230 at old Palace Yard opposite Parliament.

  4. Dear friends,

    What an awful proposal from Cameron.

    Don’t be so sure that the government will back down now that it has been shown that they will lose money by selling the forests (ie: via lost inheritance tax). The US forest service sells off publicly owned forests to timber (deforestation) companies for such a pittance that they don’t even make back the money they spend surveying, drawing up deals etc. In fact they lose about $700 US per acre of killed trees.

    At best this represents a transfer of wealth from the natural world and the public to private interests, as well as a terrible waste. At worst it shows that there is something far deeper than money involved: an obsessive urge to control and destroy life that is wild and diverse.

    Let’s sign our petitions but also be ready with the next step to protect forests, and the next step after that, too. I personally am willing to do whatever is necessary for the little patches of remnant vegetation here where I live.

    In the words of Derrick Jensen: “We have been too kind to those who are killing the planet. We have been inexcusably, unforgivably, insanely kind”

    With love, under the Tallowwoods,

    Anifail

    (Australia)


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