In order to raise £2bn, the Government is selling all 650,000 acres of our forests – a privatisation that even Margaret Thatcher blanched at.
And for what? To preserve our forests costs just 30p per taxpayer a year. Selling them off for ever will raise just half of the sum that one corporation – Vodafone – did not have to pay after the Tories came to power out of what Private Eye estimated was its total tax liability.
The Prime Minister has said the forest sell-off "empowers local communities" to take over the forests for themselves as part of a "Big Society". Yet sources within the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs say that, unsurprisingly, only about 1 per cent of the sales are anticipated to go to local co-operatives or green groups.
The Government says there is no danger to the forests in selling them to timber companies and the other highest bidders. They say they will still be standing, they will be cared for as well, and the public will have just as much access. Does this match the facts? Planning is being massively deregulated, just as the forests are sold.
Britain's forests and seas do not belong to David Cameron. They belong to us. As Bill Hobman, the former chairman of Forest of Dean District Council, says: "Mr Cameron should show us the deeds to the forest. How can they sell something they don't own?"