Amid all the focus on the European and local elections and media preoccupation with the rise of UKIP, its easy to forget that we’re only a few days away from the last Queen’s Speech of this Parliament. It takes place on June 4th and will set out the remainder of the Coalition’s legislative programme. The Woodland Trust, like others, believes that it should involve a Forestry Bill putting into law the Government’s fine words on the future of the Public Forest Estate in England.
Believe it or not, it was back at the beginning of 2011 that the famous U-turn on sales plans took place. There’s been no shortage of consultation since then and the latest step was the publication of ten ‘guiding principles’ at the start of this year and a promise to legislate “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”. The last year in Parliament has not been notable for the amount of legislation being passed. In fact some political commentators have suggested MPs haven’t had enough to do. So we believe its time that Government brought forth a Bill that places our public forests on a sustainable footing for the future.
Thanks to your support, this message has been conveyed to over 80% of all the MPs in Parliament. In parrallel to this we’re part of a strong coalition of forestry stakeholders who have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister in support of a Forestry Bill. Save our Woods, Our Forests, Ramblers, The Wildlife Trusts, ConFor, 38 Degrees and members of the Forest Campaigns Network all signed our letter which was published in the Telegraph, adding even further weight to the call for moving forward. We will all be watching carefully on June 4th to see what emerges.
As we’re sure you’ll agree, wouldn’t it be great if the last months of this Parliament saw minds there focusing on the importance of forests and all that they deliver to society? It would tee things up well for the General Election when the parties set out their visions for the future. Visions which we believe need to address woods and trees because they are so relevant to some of the great policy challenges of our age.
Dr James Cooper, head of government affairs