I’m going to do two more posts on the forest sell-off protest and then I’m going to take a break from this subject. This blog has become a bit political in a way that I never intended and I want to wrench it back to my love of backpacking. I thought it worthwhile to provide some links to the resources that I have used to follow the forest sell-off issue.
On the Parliament website you can follow the progress of the bill. The next stage is the committee stage in the House of Lords on 14th February. You can subscribe to an RSS feed and to email updates.
The bill is in a public consultation process. You can find details and links to the relevant documents at the Forestry Commission website and Defra. There is the opportunity to put your views in an online questionnaire and or physically to send a printed PDF one by post to Forestry Commission England, 620 Bristol Business Park, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1EJ. Before filling in the questionnaire it is worth looking through the various documents provided on these pages. The questionnaire is heavily tilted (IMO), so it is worth using the “additional comments” box at the end to make your feelings known. It is also worth reading the PDF version before filling in the online version. I think it is vitally important to participate in this process to get our feelings across. If you only do one thing, fill this survey in!!
The second thing to do is to apply pressure to MPs. The 38 Degrees website can show you how your MP voted (or not). It will also enable you to send an email to your MP. If you haven’t signed the petition, I urge you to do so. Another useful way of contacting your MP if you don’t want to use a campaigning website is TheyWorkForYou.com. It is also worthwhile writing a letter via snail mail to your MP as it is likely to have a greater impact than an email. The easiest thing to do is to send it to the House of Commons: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA. If you’ve got time it’s worth sending a copy to Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Defra and to David Cameron, the Prime Minister.
The House of Lords is another arena for lobbying. It’s not very obvious who is on the committee for the bill, but Hansard has the record of the last meeting. The Save Lakeland’s Forest campaign suggests contacting cross-bench peers.
The other website, which I have found very useful is One Voice, which is mainly concerned with the New Forest but is generally well-balanced and non-partisan.
While there are other resources around, the ones I’ve listed should be sufficient to help you. In the end it’s up to you. How much do you care? It may take an hour or two of your time, but if you don’t participate, then you’ve thrown away an opportunity to influence the debate. If you only do two things: fill in the consultation questionnaire and write to your MP.