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More forest fears expressed

Posted 4 February 2011
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More forest fears expressed
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Those who like to go walking could be facing a further legislative threat to land access, it has been claimed.

While debate continues about plans to sell off Forestry Commission land in England, 12 groups representing outdoor bodies have issued a joint statement expressing concern about the Public Bodies Bill, which is currently in the Lords.

The British Mountaineering Council, the Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society are among those concerned the legislation will give "wide-ranging and unfettered powers" to ministers to curb the remit of public bodies, such as national parks and the Forestry Commission.

It said this could lead to a situation where "land which is currently enjoyed by the public is appropriated for some other purpose, or that the quality of its natural features and public access diminishes or is not secured."

The Ramblers has already questioned the reassurances given by ministers over future access to Forestry Commission land, saying areas classed as heritage or large commercial forests only account for half the places that could be sold.

It said this means special protection for these areas would still leave others vulnerable to restricted access and a lack of conservation.