§ 21. Mr. Adley
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in his plans to authorise the disposal of Forestry Commission land in England, he will ensure that local authorities have an absolute priority to acquire such land in their own areas.
§ Mr. Jopling
It is recognised that many public and private bodies, including local authorities, have an interest in acquiring particular areas of Forestry Commission woodland. In order to draw attention at the ealiest stage to any such areas the commission is considering for disposal, notices are placed in theEstates Gazette in respect of all woods larger than 5 hectares and all other land having a known conservation, recreation or amenity value. In the event of a body expressing firm interest in acquiring such an area, the commission will consider giving it preference of opportunity to purchase if the Government Department or agency responsible for the specific interest concerned can confirm that such a purchase would be particularly in the public interest. It would not be right to give local authorities absolute priority over all other parties irrespective of the circumstances.