Some growers with diseased ash dieback plantations will be “dead and buried” before they receive the total €5,000/ha compensation recently announced, the Irish Forest Owners (IFO) has said.

This comes as it was revealed this week that the ash dieback payment will not be a lump sum.

The per-hectare payment is being split into three instalments.

An initial payment of €2,500 will be received once a site is cleared and replanted.

At the end of the premium, four years later, a further payment of €1,250 will be made, followed by €1,250/ha a year later.

The IFO said forest owners with plantations destroyed by ash dieback are “deeply disappointed” by the terms and conditions released this week.

IFO chair Derek McCabe said the Government has “missed a golden opportunity to create some badly needed goodwill in the forestry sector”.

“Instead, they have created a complicated drawn-down payment system that necessitates three applications by forest owners over three different years using a system that has yet to be developed,” he added.

’Further insult’

The way the compensation scheme will be paid, the IFO said, “is a further insult to affected ash growers” as it “dilutes any spending power” a lump sum may have allowed them.

“Not to mention the serious cashflow difficulties that will now needlessly be caused to affected growers,” the group added.

In addition, the IFO said the situation is a snub to the ash dieback taskforce set up by Minister of State with responsibility for forestry Pippa Hackett.

“This group has never met and has now been made redundant by the hastily hobbled together compensation scheme.

“[The] IFO is calling on the Government to take some responsibility and wake up to the damage that has been caused and continues to be caused to the forestry sector by this debacle,” it said.