IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Minister of State for Forestry Pippa Hackett must immediately correct the Dáil record in relation to number of licences caught up in a backlog in her Department.
At the recent Joint Oireachtas Committee hearing, it was stated by Minister Hackett’s officials that the backlog was of the order of 2,000 licences.
The Department has now confirmed to IFA that there are over 4,500 licences caught up in the system, some for over two years.
“The target for processing licences in both the legislation and the Charter of Farmers’ Rights is four months. The covering up of the scale of the problem is a scandal. These delays will be the death knell for our timber industry and our forestry planting programme,” he said.
“The Department needs to move immediately to implement IFA’s six-point emergency plan, including an amnesty on felling licences,” he said.
IFA Farm Forestry Chairman Vincent Nally said that the system is not working for farmers. The costs and red tape associated with planting and managing a forest is a disincentive to planting and actively discourages management.
“The system needs to be streamlined through the amendment of the Forestry Act 2014 to remove the requirement of a licence for forest roads and thinning operations. The submission of a management plan that describes how the forest will be sustainably managed over a ten to twenty-year period should replace the licence requirement,” he said.