Lerryn residents fear that Ethy Woods could be privatised

Saturday 5th February 2011

I am sure that we all fear the woodland could fall into private ownership.

Ethy Woods, which contains 27 ancient oak trees, is part of the Forestry Commission's portfolio of assets which the Government is planning to sell off.

Popular with walkers, birdwatchers, cyclists and picnicking families the woodland, with its breathtaking views across the River Fowey estuary, has one of the biggest collection of oak trees in the county.

Whitehall plans to offer the woodland for sale to private enterprise or community groups and local councils as part of its so-called "Big Society" project.

All state-owned Forestry Commission woodland is under consideration as part of the consultation process, which ends on April 21.

There has been anger across the UK, with campaigns being launched in the Forest of Dean and in Exeter to protect 258,000 hectares of forests – 15 per cent of the Forestry Commission forest land which could be sold off by 2015.

Ros Hawken said in an interview with Cornish Guardian: "It would be dreadful if they were to sell off Ethy Woods. The sense of freedom is wonderful here and the woods attract so many visitors. If they were to sell it off it would be a huge loss and I think people in the village would fight against it. I would be a part of that campaign. Ethy Woods is a special, picturesque place and you always meet other people enjoying themselves here."

Morley Tubb, who lives at Castleway in Lanteglos, is the clerk to St Veep and St Winnow parish councils and said he had spent much of his youth playing in Ethy Woods.

"Everyone I have heard from is concerned whether the access will remain to the woods if it goes into private ownership," he said.

"We don't want that access to be lost.

"Ethy Woods gives you a circular walk of about two or three hours and views right along to Fowey Docks on a clear day. Apart from the coastal path, it is one of the most popular walks in the county.

"In the summer the car park is usually full; it attracts lots of walkers. I think the parish councils would support the view that it should be kept open to the public."

He said there might be support locally for the National Trust, which already owns part of the wider Ethy woodland area, taking it over. The trust has hinted it may be prepared to take over much of the state-owned English woodland and protect it in perpetuity.

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