Whinlatter Forest protest turns into celebration

Image caption,
Whinlatter forest is one of a small number of red squirrel reserves

A protest which had been planned in an attempt to prevent the selling of Cumbrian forests has turned into a celebration after a government U-turn.

The event was due to take place on Saturday afternoon at Whinlatter forest in Cumbria.

But proposals to sell 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland in England have now been abandoned.

Protesters instead planned to gather at Whinlatter, one of Cumbria's largest forests, to celebrate.

Speakers at the event were due to include Sir Chris Bonington, Lord Clark of Windermere, Jack Ellerby from Friends of the Lake District and Keith Fitton, a Lake District Osprey Project volunteer.

'Consultation chopped'

Jack Ellerby, of Friends of the Lake District and spokesman for Save Lakeland's Forests, said: "The government's proposals made absolutely no sense.

"We are delighted that this consultation has finally been chopped.

"What a great victory for everyone who signed the petition, wrote to their MP, or demonstrated against the planned sale of our forests."

However, Mr Ellerby added: "The Forestry Commission still face major budget and staff cuts and there is still a question mark over the disposal of 15% of the public forests already agreed so our work is not quite finished yet."

Whinlatter is one of a small number of red squirrel reserves in England, where special efforts are being made to help the remaining population survive.

It also boasts the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District.

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