The Full Monty

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After my last post, a the letter I wrote earlier this week to the Directors of England’s tree planting programme, I received a prompt, if completely unsatisfactory response, this time blaming Covid for their failure to reach a decision on the South Field, County Durham native woodland scheme. So I thought I would compile the whole set of correspondence on the appeal, going back to December 2022. I have sent this to the Director for Natural Environment, Trees and Landscapes at DEFRA. Mr Barker is a civil servant, not a politician. I don’t know how he’ll respond to this, if at all, but I think it speaks for itself, so I no offer no other comment. Readers will make their own minds up.

To Mr Edward Barker, Director for Natural Environment, Trees and Landscapes, DEFRA

South Field, Edmundbyers, County Durham: Appeal against Forestry Commission.

Case History to date 12th September 2023

Your ref: [none existing]

On 11th December 2022 I submitted an appeal against a Forestry Commission decision to prevent the planting of 4ha of native trees at South Field, Edmundbyers, County Durham.

I received no acknowledgement of the appeal submission.  I am not aware that the case has ever been assigned a reference number; I have not seen one.

I wrote directly to the minister on 9th January 2023, having no other correspondence address available, as follows:

A response came on 13th January:

On 23rd February I wrote again, as follows:

On 24th February I received the following response:

I wrote again on 29th March (and I am now trimming the address lines, for brevity):

The response on 31st March was:

I wrote again on 16th May:

… and then again on 16th May:

Mr Mitchell replied on the same day:

On 15th June I wrote again, requesting clarity about the process and detailed information on the process.  I received no response.

On 16th July, having failed to elicit any further communication or response to my emails, I wrote to the Service-Standards Adjudicator:

I would like answers, if possible, to the following:

  • When was the last meeting or progress report relating to the appeal?
  • When is the next scheduled meeting or progress report?
  • Is there an established timescale for progress; and does the Government have a target date for a decision?
  • What is preventing completion of or progress towards the Government’s response to the appeal?
  • If there are currently no scheduled milestones by which a decision might be reached, in particular before the parliamentary recess on July 20th, my assumption is that no progress will be made in the foreseeable future.

I have received an acknowledgement of the complaint; but no further response from the SSA.

On 18th July I received an email from Naomi Matthiessen:

I responded on 19th July:

Naomi responded the same day (19th July):

I heard nothing after that; so I wrote again on 11th September:

I received the following reply the same day (11th September):

This summary forms the basis of my letter to him.

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