The backlog in forestry licences will not be cleared for two years and Ireland should seek an amnesty to according to the IFA.

Speaking following a meeting this week with Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Minister of State Pippa Hackett, the IFA has said that there are nearly 2,000 licences caught up in the Department’s appeals system.

“The target for processing licences in both the legislation and the Charter of Farmers’ Rights is four months. These delays are a scandalous treatment of farmers and will be the death knell for our timber industry and our forestry planting programme” he said.

He stressed IFA’s willingness to work with the Ministers, but said that the length of the timeframe proposed to deal with the crisis was unacceptable.

“I have asked the Ministers to go to the EU Commission to seek an amnesty, an emergency provision, due to the scale of the crisis and the risk to the future of the forest sector. These are exceptional circumstances and demand exceptional actions,” he said.

Red tape

IFA farm forestry chair Vincent Nally said that the system is not working for farmers.

He said 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 a forest roads and thinning operations.

“The submission of a management plan that describes how the forest will be sustainably managed over a 10 to 20-year period, should replace the licence requirement,” he said.

Tim Cullinan said that he welcomed the proposal by the Ministers to meet again in three weeks to progress action on forestry licences.

“There is no doubt that the system needs to be reformed, and without this reform, I could not encourage farmers to plant,” Cullinan said.

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