IFA President Tim Cullinan said the announcement by Minister Pippa Hackett that the EU has approved an extension of the forestry programme for 2021 will have no real impact unless the licensing backlog is addressed.
“We have a Minister announcing grants to encourage forestry, while at the same time the Department is making it unworkable for people that want to plant. It’s a farce,” he said.
Currently, there are nearly 5,000 licences awaiting approval. Farmers with forestry cannot thin or harvest their timber, and new entrants cannot get a licence to plant.
“Those who went into forestry with the full encouragement of the Government are being blocked from harvesting their crop. Yet the Government keeps issuing press releases telling us how important it is to increase the amount of forestry in the country,” he said.
“The recent changes around appeals, publishing output figures and setting up committees is all bluster. Only 30% of the monthly target of felling licences issued in December. The Department’s plan to address the felling licence backlog is not working. It is more accurately cataloguing their failure to resolve the issue” he said.