IFA National Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally said that farmers are at breaking point with the delays and additional costs associated with getting grants or licences approved.
“The current system is not working for farmers. It is unacceptable that some farmers are waiting in excess of twelve months for a decision on their application.”
Vincent Nally said that the Department must address the reasons behind the delays, which are predominantly related to lack of personnel in archaeology and ecology. This has caused a significant backlog in the system.
“IFA is calling on the Department to allocate additional resources to address the backlog in the short term so that farmers’ applications are dealt with in a timely fashion. Communication with farmers must also be improved, particularly when applications are delayed, so they have indicative timelines to manage operations,” he said.
He said that the request for supplementary documentations or reports, in some instances over six months after the application has been submitted, is infuriating farmers when they would have expected a decision on their application.
“If there is to be a reversal in the afforestation figures, it is essential that those farmers that plant their land have a positive experience as they enter into active management of their forest,” he said.
IFA is hosting an information meeting with the Forest Service on the afternoon of Thurs, June 27th at 2pm in the Irish Farm Centre where farmers will have an opportunity to get an update on the application process, including the changes to the Appropriate Assessment procedures and Natura Impact Assessment requirements.
Mr Nally said he would encourage all farmers with forestry to attend the information meeting and take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the Forest Service in relation to their application.