There is a very mixed reaction to the Government's announcement of a payment of €5,000/ha for forest owners affected by ash dieback, according to Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) forestry chair Jason Fleming.

A meeting was held by the IFA farm forestry committee this Tuesday morning to get the views of farmers from around the country to the proposed new Reconstitution Ash Dieback Scheme.

“This payment in no way compensates farmers for the financial loss incurred or the emotional toll the disease has taken on them and their families.

"But it is the first time within the scheme that a farmer’s financial loss is recognised,” he said.


He said that “many farmers were relying on the income from these forests for their pensions" and “this payment is only a drop in the ocean, while for others the payment will provide some financial relief”.

“Farmers remain concerned that the clearance grant of €2,000 per hectare and afforestation grants are not sufficient to cover the costs of reestablishing some of these forests, particularly older ones, and these costs will eat into farmers’ payment.”

He said that farmers are waiting to see the terms and conditions attached to the payment, as a lot of unanswered questions remain.

“The ash dieback taskforce that is to be established must ensure there is flexibility within the scheme, as well as the approach taken by Government.

"All options need to be considered, including review of clearance costs, the removal of replanting obligation and natural regeneration,” concluded Fleming.