Baroness defends forest land

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A FORMER Wearside MP has attacked plans to sell off North East forests to help boost public coffers.

The Coalition Government is consulting on plans to sell off or lease England’s forests to organisations which would manage and operate the woodland areas.

The proposals have been met with public outcry and there are hopes ministers will ditch the idea.

Baroness Joyce Quin, who served as MP for Washington West and Gateshead East until 2005, added her voice to those against the plans, in a debate in the Lords.

She gave Kielder forest in Northumberland, popular with visitors from Wearside, as an example.

She said: “While I hope we all agree on the importance of the Forest of Dean and the New Forest, describing a forest such as Kielder simply as ‘commercial’ flies in the face of the fact that it contains 31 areas of special scientific interest, is home to most of England’s remaining red squirrels and has become increasingly important in recent years for tourism and recreation.”