Friday, December 24, 2010

For Sale: All of our forests

John Vidal reports in The Guardian:

We now know, thanks to the junior environment minister Jim Paice's frank evidence to a recent House of Lords select committee, that the government is considering the sale of not just "some", or even "substantial", amounts of woodland as the public was originally led to believe, but of all state-owned English trees across the commission's 635,000-acre Forestry Commission estate.

Paice also accepts that foreign companies might want to buy up the trees, and that foreign-owned energy companies might want to cut the whole lot down for renewable energy.

The sale is clearly ideologically-driven, a statement that the private sector – traditionally the large landowner, but now the corporation – should maintain the environment.

As such, we should see the sale as further evidence of the dismemberment of conservation in England, the approach that has marked environmental stewardship in Britain and most European countries for the last 60 years.

You can read the whole of John Vidal's report on this alarming story here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Neil Clark: Why we should nationalise our airports

This article by CPO co-founder Neil Clark appears on the Guardian's Comment is Free website.

"The government's objective with this bill is to liberate airport management from political interference … to enable airport operators to respond to the needs of their customers, rather than to the shifting priorities of politicians and officials," declared the Earl of Caithness as he moved the Thatcher government's 1986 airports bill in the House of Lords, which was soon to become the 1986 Airports Act. The privatisation of the state-owned British Airports Authority (BAA), we were told, would ensure that "better services are provided for all airline passengers".

I wonder if the Earl of Caithness (or even Margaret Thatcher herself), would have the courage to pop down to Hounslow and tell that to the tens of thousands of holidaymakers stranded at the BAA-owned Heathrow airport for the past three days.

The whole of the article can be read here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Royal Mail, not for sale!

The Morning Star reports:

Angry postal workers took police by surprise and blocked a major street near Parliament today in a mass protest at Con-Dem plans to sell off the Royal Mail.
Waving union banners and placards, hundreds of communication workers union CWU activists staged the demo just yards from the scene of last week's police battles with students.

For half an hour nothing moved along Victoria Street as the protesters spread right across the road outside the office of Business Secretary Vince Cable, chanting: "Royal Mail, not for sale."

You can read the whole of the report on today's anti-privatisation demonstration here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

UK government set to privatise national coastguard service

The Herald reports:

The UK Government was last night accused of putting lives at risk as expectations grow that it will announce the closure of more than half of Britain’s coastguard centres and the privatisation of the nation’s search-and-rescue helicopter service in a bid to cut costs.

The Department for Transport – facing spending cuts of 15% over four years – is due to propose reducing coastguard stations from 19 to eight and only three will operate around the clock. The move could see 250 jobs lost and save £7.5 million a year.

In another cost-saving exercise, Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, is expected to press ahead with plans to privatise the search-and-rescue helicopter fleet, operated by the RAF and Royal Navy together with civilian helicopters through the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.