IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally said the issuing of felling licences must be the top priority of the Department of Agriculture.
“In some instances, farmers have been waiting in excess of 18 months for a felling licence, which means they’re unable to manage their forests and this is devaluing their investment”.
The delay is down to the extension of the Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP), which now require all applications to be screened for the in-combination effect of the operation for up to 15kms on Natura sites.
“The Department has been working over the last few months to develop a new internal system to expand the screening process and to secure additional resources to deal with the extra workload associated with processing licences. Now that this work is complete, farmers urgently need to see licences start to issue,” he said.
He said that he would like to see a targeted approach taken by the Department to deal with the approximately 800 licences impacted, with a commitment that the backlog will be resolved by the end of February.
“This would allow the farmers to make the necessary arrangements to get the operations started as soon as licences issue.”