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Forestry sell-off plan overlooked benefits, panel says

Another blow to government's green credentials as report says public owned forests and woodlands are 'greatly undervalued'

Source:  Copyright 2011, Guardian
Date:  December 7, 2011
Byline:  Damian Carrington
Original URL: Status ONLINE
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The benefits of England's publicly owned forests were "greatly undervalued" by the planned state sell-off, a government-appointed panel will say on Thursday in a report that deals a new blow to the coalition's green credentials.

The independent report, seen by the Guardian, says the £20m cost to the state of maintaining the forests and woodlands is "very modest and delivers benefits far in excess of this" and contrasts the sum with the £250m spent on reinstating weekly bin collections.

The social benefits of the natural environment – estimated at £1bn-£2bn for woodlands alone – were highlighted by the government's own landmark assessment in June, but the new report makes clear these benefits were overlooked in the forestry proposals. It comes amid a furore over plans to relax planning rules and just a week after George Osborne enraged environmentalists by talking of "endless social and environmental goals" and arguing that some placed "ridiculous costs on ...

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