Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Save our Forests

Well, would you believe it: the party which at the end of every Assembly used to sing:

The land, the land,
'Twas God who made the land,
The land, the land,
The ground on which we stand,
Why should we be beggars
With a ballot in our hand?
God gave the land to the people

is now part of a government which proposes to sell off to private developers what bit of our land actually does belong to the people.

Fortunately this proposal has raised the ire of the Tory shires as well as we wild radicals, and there is a petition by the Woodland Trust which I urge you to sign.

The demands of the petition are balanced. They request that the ancient woodlands be recognised as a "special case", urge that the damage done by the forestry commission in defacing such woodlands by over-coniferisation be rectified , and call for existing rights of access and "wild life value" to be preserved.

Personally I find this a bit on the tame side, particularly with respect to the preservation of public rights of access. When the extension of Sunday Trading was authorised all sorts of promises were made about preserving the rights of employees not to work on Sundays, that the chances of promotion for those who opted out would not be harmed and even that overtime rates for Sunday working would be preserved. Those promises are now hardly worth a "bucket of warm spit," (which I believe is a Bowdlerised version of what an America President said), and I suspect much the same will happen to access rights to woodlands one the private sector get their hands on them.

Rather than selling off our land I'd prefer to see a Liberal government taking more and more of this "gift of nature" back into the ownership of the public to whom it really belongs. In the meantime, we need to ask what has happed to our excellent policy of land value taxation.

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