David Cameron has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn over his government’s controversial plans to sell-off state owned forests, after being hit by a furious backlash.

The Prime Minister shocked MPs when he disowned the forest sell-off policy in the House of Commons yesterday.

Asked by the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, whether he was happy with his “flagship policy” on forests, he replied: “The short answer to that is no.”

The proposed policy to transfer 637,000 acres of woodlands into private ownership caused outrage among countryside groups, environmentalists, MPs and hundreds of thousands of members of the public who made their opprobrium known to the government within hours of it being announced.

Forest sell-off put on hold

Some 500,000 people signed an online petition against the proposal.

The government were reportedly stunned by the ferocity of the backlash.

“It is a consultation that was put forward. We’ve had a range of interesting responses to this consultation,” Cameron added giving a clear indication that the proposal will not go ahead.

The policy U-turn is particularly embarrassing for Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, who had ordered a review of the Forestry Commission as part of a cost-saving programme.