Conservative MP Guy Opperman from Hexham spoke out today in front of the Commons stating that he had real concerns about using the forest as a tourist attraction handled by private companies.
Opperman explained that the forest today is a major tourist attraction but at the same time it is also a large environmental concern citing examples such as that it is the last place that you can find red squirrels in Britain.
However, the new coalition plan could threaten the development of the forest even if it did pump £31m into the surrounding economies while creating new jobs. According to Opperman, by allowing private companies to develop the area the jobs would be reduced and may habitats of animals would be threatened.
A Tory MP echoed the thoughts that the forest is the heart of the North East and the spirit of green in the Northumberland country area.
Mary Creagh the Shadow Environment Secretary also spoke accusing the coalition of following a new plan that was madness in terms of both the economy and the potential destruction that it would do to the environment. She added that every year Britons pay 30p for the Forestry Commission and that there were over 360,000 signatures on a local petition to save the forest lands.
The plan as outlined by the Coalition Government is to sell off all 258,000 hectares of the public forest estate in England over the next ten years including a £250m sell exclusively to timber companies that can make use of the timber in the forest.
‘Heritage’ woods such as those found in Hampshire would be given to charities and communities, local councils, and additional charities could choose to lease or purchase woods if they so wish.