David Cameron was forced to accept his plans to sell England's forests was a disaster.He was ridiculed by Ed Miliband at Prime Minister's Questions and asked if he was still happy with proposals to offload nearly 650,000 acres run by the Forestry Commission. Embarrassed Mr Cam??eron replied: "The short answer to that is No." The Prime Minister tried to insist the process was merely a consultation. But the Labour leader shot back: "He says they're consulting on this policy."
"They are actually consulting on how to flog off the forests, not whether to flog off the forests."
Mr Miliband added: "Even he must appreciate the irony - the guy who made the tree the symbol of the Conservative Party flogging them off up and down the country." Mr Cameron had claimed his ministers would ensure "we don't make the mistake that was made under the last Government, where they sold forests with no access rights at all". However, Shadow Environment Secretary Mary Creagh said his U-turn showed that "the Tories are on the ropes". She urged the Government to "call time on this policy for good".
Almost 500,000 people have signed the Save Our Forests petition.
The consultation, which provoked a storm of protest when it was published last month, outlines plans to off-load England's 258,000-hectare forests, currently managed by the Forestry Commission, over the next 10 years. The proposals include a £ 250million sale of leaseholds for commercially valuable forests to timber firms.