On 17th March 2015 Baroness Royall of Blaisdon asked Her Majesty’s Government “what steps they are taking to protect the Forestry Commission’s stake in Forest Holidays and to ensure that in the event of a sale by the majority shareholder they would not lose all management control of any future development.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Forestry Commission in England is to be congratulated on the significant rise in the number of people visiting our public forest estates, not least as it is against the background of a recent report which suggests that the number of people visiting rural areas has slightly declined. It shows the huge value that our population puts on both the social and economic benefits of the forest, as well as on the environmental benefits because of carbon capture. Have Her Majesty’s Government made any assessment of the possibility of increasing the total amount of public forest estate to enhance those benefits even further?
Lord De Mauley: We have not given particular consideration to that, although the House will be aware of the background and the report of the Independent Panel on Forestry. It is important that we continue to increase the amount of woodland cover generally in the country. That is under way, principally funded through the rural development programme.