THE debate has started that will determine the future of an ancient beauty spot near Ludlow.

A major consultation process is underway into the future of the Mortimer Forest.

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has met the chairman of the Forestry Commission, Sir Harry Studholme, to discuss plans for the future of Mortimer Forest.

Mortimer Forest is one of the largest forests managed by the Forestry Commission along the Marches, covering more than 1,000 hectares, with an important role in sustaining local commercial and amenity woodland and wildlife.

The Forestry Commission’s Plan for Mortimer has come up for renewal, with a public consultation now open on the latest 10-year plan and longer-term proposals.

Along with representatives from the Forestry Commission, Mr Dunne also met representatives from Shropshire Wildlife Trust and Friends of Mortimer Forest, to seek their views on how best to manage the Forest in future.

“Mortimer Forest is clearly of real importance in helping to protect local woodland and wildlife and is greatly valued by the local community,” said Mr Dunne. “So, it is important the Forestry Commission engages with other relevant community groups and puts in place a robust plan for its future.”

“I was pleased the Chairman agreed to visit and listened to our views with interest.

“There was clear consensus about the desire to enhance public access and interest in the forest, while developing a sustainable future.

“I encourage local interested parties to submit their views via the online consultation before the deadline of February 1, 2019.”

Earlier this year there was a controversial scheme to build 68 holiday log cabins in the Mortimer Forest.

Some of the cabins envisaged would have had four bedrooms and hot tubs.

This proposal from Forest Holidays was eventually withdrawn after a storm of protest.

It had been claimed that the project would inject an additional £2.4 million into the economy of Ludlow and the surrounding area.

Forest Holidays was created more than 40 years ago and operate sites throughout the country, including in National Parks.

The holiday business had said that the site would be sensitive to the environment as well as bringing economic benefits, but objectors were not convinced.

Ludlow Town councillor Tony Mahalski said at the time that the scheme was all about making money and had many faults.

He said that as well as damaging the forest it would also damage local businesses like hotels and bed and breakfast establishments.

There were also concerns about the infrastructure that would have been needed to be built to support the holiday development.

A public consultation was held before the decision was made not to go-ahead with the planning application for the log cabin proposal.

The public consultation on the Mortimer Forest plan will run until February 1, 2019, available at