Rallies to back forest campaign

CAMPAIGNERS in Sussex have vowed to continue their fight to keep the county’s forests in public ownership, despite a Government U-turn on plans to sell woodland.

The Government was forced to back down last month after a public outcry against proposals to raise £250m by selling Forestry Commission woodland.

But campaigners are still concerned about the future of the region’s forests.

Sussex-based campaign group Keep Our Forests Public (KOFP), has organised two protest events in the Horsham district.

A walk at St Leonard’s Forest, Horsham, will take place on Saturday, April 9 with Brighton KOFP.

On Saturday May 14, Worthing KOFP is organising a forest rally, picnic and walk in Houghton Forest near Amberley, meeting at Whiteways car park at noon.

Campaigners say their concerns include who will be on a panel created to advise ministers on forestry and spending cuts which could see 400 Forestry Commission jobs axed.

They are also concerned that the Government will use existing laws to sell 15 per cent of the country’s woods each year, raising £100m.

A spokesperson for KOFP said: “The proposed privatisation of our national forests stirred public anger to boiling point.

“Opposition groups formed all across the country.

“The 38 Degrees online petition has over half a million signatures.

“These strong new groups will not go away. We do not believe the government has changed its mind.

“It has merely been forced to retreat. We have many more battles to fight.”

For more information about the planned rallies email Keep-our-forests-public@live.co.uk