CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFRA – FUTURE OF THE NEW FOREST – 2 February 2011

Dr Julian Lewis: I was interested to hear that my right hon. Friend said that no organisation would be allowed to take over one of those forests unless it was capable of running it. She has heard already the figure of £2.9 million, which is the deficit cost to the Forestry Commission from running the New Forest. What sort of charity would be able to shoulder that deficit?

[The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mrs Caroline Spelman): I can give my hon. Friend the same assurance as I have given the National Trust, the Woodland Trust and any new trust that would like to manage our heritage forests for us: we do not expect them to do it for nothing. Let us look at the model of British Waterways. Our canal network is to be moved into the hands of a mutual trust. Obviously, the Government will continue providing running costs to that trust because we understand that it cannot manage the network for nothing.]

[NOTE: For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]