IFA President Tim Cullinan said that while it was important the that Minister for Forestry Pippa Hackett issued a statement to clarify the full extent of the backlog in licences, the actions announced by the Minister would not solve the crisis facing the sector.
“The scale of the backlog is staggering with 4,700 licences now stuck in the system. Radical action is needed to address a crisis that is bringing the sector to a standstill,” he said.
“The Minister must give a clear commitment on how soon the Department will be in a position to comply with legislation which says licences should be issued within four months. Many people are now waiting for over two years and their crop is being devalued,” he said.
“Farmers must to be allowed to put in roads, to thin, and to manage their timber crop. We have a timber crisis in the country and we need action now,” he said.
“It is all well and good to be allocating additional resources, but this is not going to solve the problem, which is that the licencing system is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be reformed. The Minister must find a way of giving an amnesty on existing application for roads, thinning or felling which are in the system for over four months,” he said.
“It’s completely unacceptable that people are given a licence to plant forestry and then are held up for years waiting to be allowed to manage their timber crop. It’s a complete abuse of the private citizen,” he said.