Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Theft of British Woodland

Press Release

The theft of British Woodland... Campaign to prevent the sale of the nation’s woodland through tax reform

A thousand year-old crime is being repeated today... and Sir Winston Churchill had the solution.

Today – Wednesday 2nd February, the British parliament will vote to perpetrate a crime against the nation that has been happening for a thousand years.

Wildwood Trust is joining the hundreds of thousands of people calling for the Coalition government not to sell our nation’s woodland.

Since our Norman Conquerors first landed on the Kent coast, the people of Britain have seen their land stolen from them. First the Barons, then the landed gentry stole the birth right of every Englishman, Scot and Welshman. British taxpayers have been paying for this land grab every year since.

The Coalition Government is continuing this crime, a crime we are committing against our children, stealing their birthright to enjoy the British countryside and its wildlife.

The sale of British woodlands sees public assets ‘privatised’, then rented back to us at huge rents.

We are condemning future generation to pay a rent for accessing the few remaining bits of woodland and be taxed more heavily to protect its wildlife.

Private ‘investors’ can buy the land, and then claim huge tax breaks, Government grants and assistance at the expense of taxpayers.

Already the taxpayer is forced to pay a hundreds of millions of pounds every year subsidy to the wealthiest landowners in the country and this scheme will further entrench the grip of private landowners on the nation’s assets.

The State should have no authority to sell land that citizens then have to effectively rent back. We have seen this happen to 100’s billions of pounds worth of public assets over the last 30 years.

Britain has seen its wild woodland’s systematically devastated, with over 50% of our ancient woodlands lost since the Second World War. The UK is one of Europe’s most poorly wooded counties, with only 15% of our land enjoying tree cover against a European average of over 40%.

Wildwood Trust’s Chief Executive has been working with leading economist, Fred Harrison, to come up with an economic plan that will not only restore wild woodlands but help revitalize the Britain’s economy. The coming months will see Mr Harrison publish a book out of the collaboration and a ground breaking documentary.

Wildwood Trust’s Chief Executive Peter Smith said:

“Land is the most crucial element to the protection of wildlife in this country. And it is the policy of Wildwood Trust to reverse the sale of the public’s land into private hands.

The privatisation of land over the last 1000 years has been a disaster for British wildlife. Further privatisations will continue this appalling history of loss. This country needs to create a network of commonly owned land that can remain wild.”

“Wildwood’s vison for the creation of national woodlands is inspired by the work pioneered by the country’s greatest statesmen, namely David Lloyd George and Sir Winston Churchill. This can be achieved at no cost to the taxpayer by a small change to our taxation system.”

This tax reform was championed by the world’s greatest economists such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Henry George and Milton Freedman. A solution that is supported by Business Secretary Vince Cable, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and members of all political persuasions, both right and left, who understand the role of land values in our economic system.

That solution could abolish income tax and VAT and help the UK revitalise its economy. The solution would be to levy a tax equal to the rental value of all land. In essence all landowners would have to pay an annual rent to the Government for the exclusive possession of that land.

This would be a replacement for other taxes, so that 95% of the British public would be much better off, freeing up the talented and hardworking people to keep more from their efforts. It would create jobs for the unemployed and put an end to property speculators and house price boom and busts.

Tax dodgers and large landowners would be very much worse off and many would be forced to sell their land to others who could make better use of it. Wildlife would recover, and landowners who put their land into a charitable trust with the objective of sustaining its wildlife would be exempt from the land value tax.

Wildwood Trust is calling on the Government to protect wildlife and stop the sale of one of the nation’s greatest assets.

******* End *********
For more information conact:
Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood Trust
Fred Harrison, Research Director of the Land Research Trust. Fred can be contacted through Wildwood Trust.

Tel: 01227 712111
Mobile: 07986 828229

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