To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether he has had discussions with the Forestry Commission on its proposal to dispose of (a) Mortimer Forest, near Ludlow and (b) other areas of the land it owns; whether his Department has a role in approving (i) the process for and (ii) individual proposals to dispose of such land; and if he will publish the protocols under which the Commission can itself decide on such disposals to a private organisation.
There has not been any discussion on land disposal because the Forestry Commission has no plans to dispose of Mortimer Forest or any other significant areas of land. We remain committed to maintaining the Public Forest Estate in trust for the nation. As set out in the Written Ministerial Statement on 7 November 2017 we will not allow any net reduction in size of the Estate. The Forestry Commissioners are empowered to buy and sell land on behalf of Ministers but before doing so on any significant scale they would be expected to consult Ministers.