On the 25th January, Baroness Royall of Blasidon asked the government “what assessment they have made of the social and environmental impacts of the potential extraction of coal-bed methane on forests such as the Forest of Dean.” The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, this Question raises a much broader issue, which concerns many people, about the protection both of the ancient forest lands and of the forestry estates. Could the Minister update your Lordships’ House on what progress has been made towards the appointment of the new public forest body, which was the recommendation of the independent forestry report? If no progress has been made, what role is, for example, the Forestry Commission taking in protecting this land, which the public hold so dear and for which they have such great concern?
Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans asks about protection for forests”
On 5th November 2014, the Bishop of St Albans took part in a debate on an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill, which he co-sponsored with Baroness Royall of Blaisdon. The amendment sought to guarantee the protection of the Public Forest Estate, following the recommendations made by the Independent Panel on Forestry, which was chaired by the former Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones. Following the debate on the amendment, the Government agreed to bring forward amendments to the Bill at Third Reading.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am glad to speak in support of this amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall. I am also glad to pay tribute to her persistence on this matter which I, too, believe is crucial. When the discussions about the future of the forestry estate have come before the public they have made their views absolutely clear that trees, woods and forests are a vital part of the make-up of the English countryside. Although they now cover only 9% of the land area of England, trees have an iconic place in our relationship with the landscape. Whether living in towns, cities, villages or hamlets, many people express affection and deep regard for the well-being of trees in the locality. Protecting the Public Forest Estate will bring many benefits to the public and the environment. I will mention three of them briefly. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans co-sponsors amendment to protect Public Forest Estate”
On 15th July 2014, the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke in support of amendments to the Government’s Infrastructure Bill, during its Committee Stage. The amendments, the the Bishop’s intervention, focused on forestry and the place of the public forest estate. The amendments were withdrawn at the end of the debate.
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, an interest in forestry has brought me along today. I am hugely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, for what she said; indeed, she made many of the points that I wanted to make. I will therefore say just one or two things. In starting, I have come hotfoot from the General Synod, where we had a debate last night on Magna Carta, which I had to read. I discovered that three of the clauses there are about bishops and barons bringing the Executive to account on the forests—in those days King John wanted to make them bigger so that he could take more land. I now find myself here as a Bishop among Barons and Baronesses, reflecting on that. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans calls for action of protection the public forest estate”
On 17th December 2013, Lord Clark of Windermere asked Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made in implementing the recommendations of the report of the Independent Panel on Forestry.
The Bishop of St Albans asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, as Her Majesty’s Government will be aware, there are several very serious diseases affecting trees in this country. What steps are being taken to ensure that, with the reorganisation of the responsibilities of the Forestry Commission, this important disease prevention, control and elimination work will not only continue but be strengthened?
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On 17th July 2013, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon asked Her Majesty’s Government what further developments there have been since the publication of their response to the report of the Independent Panel on Forestry. The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, can the Minister assure us that the Government will keep faith with the recommendation to establish guardians of the public forest estate and, if so, tell us what their role will be in relation to the new management organisation that is being established?
Lord De Mauley: My Lords, before I answer that perhaps I should reiterate my thanks to the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Liverpool and his independent panel for the work that they did for us on this.
We envisage that there will be a group of guardians who will draw on the interests and expertise of public forest users and will be able to advise and support the delivery of the new body’s remit. The guardians will be focused on the outcomes that the management body delivers, such as environmental biodiversity and social benefits, and any questions of significant land acquisitions and disposals.