REPORT: Hands Off Our Forest protest

At the beginning of January members of Hereford Solidarity League joined over 3000 people to protest against government plans to privatise vast areas of Forestry Commission (FC) land. The rally, speeches, music and ritual burning of Big Ben took place at the Speech House outside Coleford in the Forest of Dean.

The demonstration took place to show opposition to the coalition governments Public Bodies Bill. This piece of legislation currently being pushing the through parliament will allow the ConDem cronies to privatise our state owned forest. This is another part of Cameron’s Big Society. We are told it will allow local communities to buy and run their local woodland. But this is utter nonsense, we already own all the FC land, that is what state ownership is. This bill will allow developers and energy firms to get their hands on some of the most beautiful and important land we have. It’s just another example of politicians favouring the rich and powerful over the right of the people.

More than anywhere else this government sponsored land grab will affect the people of the Forest of Dean, but they are not sitting back and accepting it. The newly formed Hands off our Forest (HOOF) describe themselves as a broad alliance of groups and individuals campaigning to keep the forest out of private hands. And they have history on their side. From the riots of 1612 through Warren James in 1831 to the campaign that stopped the 1981 forest privatisation, the foresters have shown themselves to be a committed and passionate bunch, so don’t be surprised when they win this battle.

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