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Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Forest of Dean sell-off proposals campaigned against
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BBC Points West's Paul Barltrop reports from the Forest of Dean

Thousands of Gloucestershire residents have joined a campaign to stop parts of the Forest of Dean being sold off.

A government bill is proposing changes to the Forestry Commission, which looks after 600,000 acres (2400 sq km) of woodland in England.

It means some of its land, including parts of the Forest of Dean, could be put up for sale.

Locals said they don't want change, but ministers insist the public would still be able to enjoy the area.

'Most wonderful place'

The Government said any sell-off would have strict conditions and public access would be protected.

Thousands of Foresters have already signed a petition against the idea.

It's a real opportunity for people of the Forest of Dean to have it owned and run locally for the first time in the best part of a thousand years.
Mark Harper, MP

Dave Harvey, who has always classed the Forest of Dean as "God's own country", said things should remain the same.

"I feel that I really want to do all I can to stop this sell off, because born and bred here, I think it's the most wonderful place to live in the world, we just don't want it sold off, privatised, any bit of it at all," he said.

But the area's Conservative MP, Mark Harper, has dismissed the concerns.

"The idea that you can chop down all the trees and do lots of development, it's just not true," said Mr Harper.

"It's not possible and I think critics know it's not possible. But they want to conjure this idea up because it's of interest.

"I actually think it's a real opportunity for people of the Forest of Dean to have it owned and run locally for the first time in the best part of a thousand years."




SEE ALSO
Wales 'to decide forests' future'
26 Oct 10 |  Wales
Woman wins right to be freeminer
08 Oct 10 |  Gloucestershire
Forest of Dean 'in the north'
23 Aug 10 |  People & Places


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