Many people have contacted Matthew about the Coalition Government's proposals to sell-off our country’s forests and woodlands. While there is not a public wood in the immediate area, the issue is important because people in places like Hendon should be able to visit places like St Julian’s wood near St Albans, Aldenham Country Park or Oxleys wood in Welwyn Hatfield.
Over the last thirteen years, the Labour Government sold over 25,000 acres of forestry land with few protections. By contrast, the Coalition Government has published a consultation paper at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/forests/index.htm which guarantees protections on rights to access – our ability to take the dog for a walk, go cycling, horse riding or simply walking with our family in the woodland we know and love – and maintaining and improving biodiversity. The paper also sets out how heritage forests could be transferred to charitable trusts, while commercial land could be leased, with strict protections build into its clauses.
Matthew said “The Coalition Government has published a consultation paper and I strongly urge everyone to make their views known – like I shall be. The number of emails I have received shows this is a very important issue and living in a suburban part of London does not mean we should not have an interest in maintaining the health of the countryside and our access to it. As such I have raised these concerns directly with Ministers and even the Prime Minister himself - to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that we must retain access to our woodland heritage.”
Photo: Matthew is pictured with his father-in-law Cllr Andrew Rowles