Set out below is the text of an email I have just sent to my MP, a Liberal Democrat in one of the country’s most marginal constituencies, asking why he voted in favour of the forest sell-off and requesting he reconsider. Any response will be published here.
Dear Mr L
I am writing to you to ask why you voted against the motion calling on the government to rethink its plan to privatise our woodlands.
I’m sure you’re aware of the huge campaign across the country to stop these proposals. I saw a poll that said 84% of the British people want to keep our woodlands in public ownership.
As city dwellers, we are all too aware of the restricted access we have to green spaces, and the proposals by the current Government to dispose – at no cost advantage to the nation – on long leases (the legal equivalent of a full disposal of title) of England’s woodlands and forests is a dangerous and undemocratic move. Nowhere in either the Conservative or the Liberal Democrat General Election manifestos was there any mention of such an activity, and neither is this a part of the Coalition Agreement. And, as there is no cost advantage, it is evident that this is unconnected with the Government’s desire to reduce the UK’s budget deficit.
The only persons who will benefit will be logging companies, whose sole interests will be profit and not the protection of our arboreal spaces. Further, the permissive access enjoyed by so many seems to be under direct threat. The proposals suggesting that community groups may buy woodlands at an open market price is laughable – a government that has at its heart the wholesale destruction of the livelihoods of so many of its ordinary people (those whom make up a significant proportion of your constituency) surely cannot consider this to be a realistic proposal; it is evident that it will only benefit the already wealthy and those immune from the draconian measures of the Coalition Government.
Given the Liberal Democrats’ usual stance of protection of the environment and the advantageous position your party finds itself in as the clear check and balance of a minority Conservative government, this seems to be a particularly regressive step.
I hope that you will not be swayed by whip-lead voting, and will reconsider your position. You have (from a separate organisation) been previously recognised as Parliamentarian of the year. Please do not forget this accolade when voting on an issue so close to the heart of so many people in England: the protection of our national assets.
I look forward to hearing from you.