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Clarification of Facts

Since we held our public exhibitions about proposals for Mortimer Forest, some individuals against these proposals have circulated and shared incorrect information online and in the media.

We held our public exhibitions so that we could have a genuine discussion with local people so that everyone with an interest in our proposals for this small area of Mortimer Forest has a fair opportunity to form their own views.

Below we have answered what we think are some of the most important questions people may be asking as a result of the misinformation.

You can find more information about our proposals, together with FAQs on the following website https://www.forestry.gov.uk/mortimerforest

              

Question: Are forests still public property and under the Forestry Commission’s control? (privatised / sold off)

Our reply: Yes. The nation’s forests remain in trust for the nation, a commitment repeated in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. The forests are still owned by the public, cared for and controlled by the Forestry Commission.

The Forestry Commission tightly controls what happens by legal agreements. The Forestry Commission is the landlord and Forest Holidays the tenant. Privatisation is where property, or control of it, is no longer in public hands. (Oxford dictionary).

  

Question: Will everyone still be able to walk freely in the forests?

Our reply: Yes. All of the forest would remain entirely open to everyone. Our proposal includes improvements for the forest, including resurfacing the car park and improving trails in and around the cabin location. Everyone will still be able to use the High Vinnalls viewpoint.

 

Question: Would wildlife be protected during and after the cabins have been built?

Our reply: Yes. Proposed sites have extensive wildlife surveys before development of cabins to identify existing wildlife and to highlight opportunities for potential improvements to the forest. The locations are designed to be low-impact and peaceful. The proposal for Mortimer Forest includes significant woodland and landscape improvement, woodland creation and ongoing management to provide more habitat for existing and new wildlife onto over 50 hectares of forest.  

  

Question: Will the forest still be a pleasant place to visit?

Our reply: Yes. The Forest Holidays model is very different to  fenced off and noisy holiday parks. They do not have big car parks, high street chains, fences or complexes. Guests choose to stay with Forest Holidays for a peaceful getaway in a well-managed, ecologically diverse and quiet forest environment.  Forest Holidays’ focus on Slow Tourism encourages a low key visitor experience promoting surrounding attractions, restaurants, cafes and shops.

 

Question: What will the roads and tracks be like?

Our reply: The tracks and paths to and between the cabins are the same as the existing forest roads made using local aggregate. They are not surfaced with tarmac or kerbed and they drain naturally.

 

Question: Will it still be free to park?

Our reply: Yes. There are no charges for parking at any Forest Holidays locations.

 

Question: Will residents and the local community have a say in the process?

Our reply: Yes. We have already held a series of public exhibitions and have been talking and listening to people’s views since February this year.  We only make our proposals public after a host of environmental, archaeological and other studies to make sure they are suitable. This can take several years.

Announcing outline proposals at too early a stage would mean that we do not have all the information we need to answer your questions. Remember, any planning application provides another opportunity for everyone to share views and opinions.

 

Question: Are Forest Holidays locations good for the Forestry Commission?

Our reply: Yes. The Forestry Commission receives rent every year for each Forest Holidays location. This would be around £200,000 per year at Mortimer Forest which will go directly to the West England Forest District. The money from the small Forest Holidays locations is much greater than from forestry from the same area and is guaranteed every year.  The Forestry Commission also saves considerable money with Forest Holidays managing the trails, toilets, roads and other infrastructure without any initial capital investment.

 

Question: Will Mortimer Forest feel the same?

Our reply: Yes, or better. We work to increase wildlife or ‘biodiversity net gain’.  The proposal sits in an area of conifer forest which was planted in the late 1980s on open farm land.  The area has only been wooded for a relatively short period and is not as ecologically rich or diverse as older or mixed woodland.

Our plan is to enhance this area by converting to a much more diverse forest which has a wide variety of trees and shrubs with a broader age range. This would be achieved through careful forestry work such as thinning, natural regeneration, and supplementary planting.  This approach maintains forest cover so that the site will always be screened and become a richer, more varied habitat supporting existing and future species.

  

Question: Will you really create that many jobs?

Our reply: Yes. The job figures are based on  our experience from Forest Holidays’ nine other locations. The proposals are expected to create 43 full time equivalent direct jobs, ranging from managerial positions to support roles. The figures for the successful Forest Holidays location  at Blackwood Forest in Hampshire (60 cabins) are below:

 Division  Head Count  Full Time (actual numbers)  Part-time (actual numbers)*
Management 5 4 1
Support Crew 6 5 1
Support Crew Maintenance 2 2  
Support Crew -Retreat 15 7 8
Forest Ranger 2   2
Cabin Crew (housekeeping) 25 2 23
Totals 55 20 35

 

*Part time hours generally range from 32hrs – 12hrs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated: 18th May 2018

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.