Plans to stop woodland sale will not affect Norfolk

Sales of 15pc of England's publicly-owned forests are to be put on hold while the criteria for selling them off are re-examined, the government said today.

The move follows widespread criticism of proposals by ministers to offload the remaining 85pc of England's public forest estate to timber companies, charities and local communities.

However Ms Spelman said the review would not affect the commitment to sell 15pc of the forest estate over the next four years, and had no impact on the continuing consultation into the remaining 85pc of the public forests - which includes Thetford Forest on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

She said the government was committed to increasing protection for access and public benefit in public woodlands, and that the 'inadequate measures' applied to sales under the previous administration would be reviewed.

The sale of 15pc of the forest estate - the maximum the government can sell under current legislation - aimed to raise �100 million towards the Environment Department's budget.

The pressure however appeared to be very much still on the government to abandon plans completely.

David Babbs, executive director of campaign group 38 Degrees, which is leading a 'Save Our Forests' fight, said: 'It's welcome news that our people-powered campaign has pushed the government to postpone the start of the sell-off for at least a few months. But if David Cameron hopes the fuss will now die down, he's going to be disappointed.'

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