More than 330 unprocessed planting applications that were made under the old forestry programme could be rejected because of changes to the new regime.
Around 105 of the 437 planting applications that the Department has on hand will be unaffected by the changes to the new forestry programme, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told the Dáil.
However, approximately 13 applications are for ineligible areas, while the remaining 329 will have to be further assessed, the Minister said in reply to a parliamentary question from Deputy Brendan Howlin.
“All applicants who have applications on hand have been written to and asked if they wish to opt in to the new scheme.
"There are 437 applications on hand that were received under the previous programme. Where the applicant has opted in, the file is being checked by my staff with respect to the new rules,” Minister McConalogue said.
“The new programme has a number of changes that will impact the area available for planting. An analysis has been carried out on the afforestation files on hand that may be affected by the new restrictions,” he explained.
“Of the 437 applications, approximately 3% are in areas that will not now be eligible under the conditions of the scheme, as they are within 1.5km of a curlew site,” the Minister said.
“Approximately 24% of the applications are entirely unaffected by the changes and the remainder will require further assessment regarding their eligibility as they are in areas where new restrictions may apply and this may affect their eligibility.
"These applications are either on peat soils, in high nature value areas, in breeding wader areas or a combination of these,” he said.
Farmer representatives and private forestry firms have warned that tighter land-use restrictions will strangle the new forestry programme and make its planting target of 8,000ha per year unattainable.