UKTC Archive

RE: FC sell off? [Scanned]

Subject: RE: FC sell off? [Scanned]
From: Edmund Hopkins
Date: Nov 25 2008 08:28:29
I support every word of this, except I've forgotten exactly what clause 4 is 
or was. Much of the least economically viable part of the estate was sold off 
piecemeal, and a few of us hobbyists now own a scrap. What now remains is 
bound to be of interest to the big EU management companies.

From a fairly murky past the Forestry Commission for some time now have 
provided british forestry with exemplary good practice in how to manage land 
for nature conservation and public enjoyment, and have done rather better as 
a landowner than a regulator in my view. This would not all go down the 
plughole with a sell off but commerce would steadily erode it.

The production end of forestry is not very sustainable even now, with most 
timber movements by road and for long distances, and as the present economic 
conditions shut down more local mills that will get worse.

I was talking to a fencing contractor the other day and he said that whilst 
most of his bars and rails are still british grown, all his stakes come from 
the Baltic, and not only are they cheaper but the quality is better than UK 
can offer.

Edmund Hopkins
Tree Officer
Planning Services
Nottingham City Council
Bring back clause IV

Maggie tried to privatise FC but failed, we just got more sporadic sell
offs of woodlands (I would suggest an increase in disposals is actually an
attempted defence against a wholesale sell off).  Most of the same
arguments we used against it then still hold good, but I fear thirst for
cash is probably is probably a more difficult opponent to overcome than
dogma. The regular auction of FC timber keeps the British timber
infrastructure working. The private sector only sell when prices are high
or they have to. Otherwise mills etc are likely to move entirely to ports
and much British forestry will become even more marginal as transport costs
are an absolute killer. Just the ticket when woodfuel is being trumpeted as
an important element of carbon friendly energy (and the wind doesn't even
have to blow continuously). This will further reduce the price the private
sector would pay for these assets. The FC actually frequently actually
manage to overvalue their current limited disposals, as supply is limited
and its take it or leave it. (Cheap disposals tend to be poor timber of
limited amenity value and far from markets). Won't hold true when there's
umpteen times what anyone is ever going to want to buy all available at
once though. 50/60/70 year returns aren't all that popular if anyone is
considering anything beyond creaming and flogging on. Public usage is
unlikely to be generally favoured, and whilst it might have to be tolerated
to an extent is unlikely to be encouraged on other than a commercial basis,
denying the public a huge opportunity that the national forest estate
should provide if multipurpose forestry could be properly valued - as set
against say the convenience of a short term one off cash injection.

Bad all round then - unless you just happen to be keen on getting hold of
some cheap timber short term, in which case it's great.
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