Chopwell Wood protest over sell-off plans

image captionOrganisers said they were delighted with the turn-out

More than 1,000 people gathered in Gateshead to protest at government plans to sell off public woodland.

Organisers of Sunday's event in Chopwell Wood said they had expected about 500 protesters and were delighted with how many had showed up.

Protesters said the wood was important for the community.

The government's proposals are to sell off 258,000 hectares run by the Forestry Commission although it has now put some of its plans on hold.

Terry Meadows has multiple sclerosis and visits Chopwell Wood most days.

He said: "It's going to hit the disabled and vulnerable people. Mothers with bairns also come through the wood with their prams and pushchairs."

Lavinnia Cooper: "They're our woods anyway so I don't think they've got any right to sell off our woods.

"It's a leisure facility which everybody has got access to so I think it's absolutely disgusting that they are selling it off."

Yellow ribbons were tied around trees during the protest and signatures were gathered for a petition.

Organiser John Thompson: "We were planning on around 500 people turning up but for in excess of 1,000 people to turn up is absolutely fantastic, we are over the moon."

A consultation on the plans for the sell-off is now going on. On Friday, it was announced the planned sale of 15% of state-owned forests would be put on hold.

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