Leitrim is a national sacrifice zone for Sitka spruce with just two planning permissions granted for one-off houses in 2019, Indenpdent TD Marian Harkin has said.
The comments came during a statement in the Dáil on forestry development where Harkin supported a forestry bill, proposed by Deputy Martin Kenny.
The Sligo-Leitrim TD said that there is a need to build a forestry model which attracts farmers, supports processors, is good for the environment and assists rural communities.
Finding middle ground
Harkin slammed the current policy for tree planting, questioning the incentives which drive current legislation.
“We follow the money, not the policy, because we do not have a policy. If this is to be solved then consideration must be given to the settlement pattern in the country.
“We need to involve farmers and to promote agro-forestry especially under Pillar II of the upcoming Common Agricultural Policy.”
Referring to afforestation programmes in Scotland and France, Harkin highlighted that large swathes of uninhabited areas are planted, avoiding competing with space for people to live.
Harkin said: “While thousands of hectares of trees are being planted it is worth noting that in 2019 just two planning permissions were granted for one-off houses in the open countryside in Leitrim.”
Harkin warns that the absence of forestry policy prevents a middle ground position to be found, accommodating the needs of those wishing to live in the countryside and those processing timber.