A collapse in the supply of Irish timber has seen an Irish sawmill company forced to rely on logs imported from its Scottish operation to keep its plants running.
Glennon Brothers which operates sawmills in Longford and Fermoy as well as Scotland producing construction materials, pallets and fencing has been importing a boatload of logs every five days.
Mike Glennon, joint managing director of Glennon Brothers told the Irish Farmers Journal that Ireland’s “slow and bureaucratic” licencing system was to blame for the shortage of timber.
“This crisis is now ongoing for two years. In 2019 there were licences issued for 57,000ha, this collapsed to 18,000ha in 2020 and so far this year there’s only been licences for 11,000ha,” Glennon said.
We’re probably at peak levels now but we won’t be able to sustain that
“We’ve no option but to import timber and we’re not the only ones either. We’re probably at peak levels now but we won’t be able to sustain that.”
Glennon called for a complete overhaul of the licencing system as the industry's requirement for 125 licences to be issued weekly is yet to be met in 2021.
He said many farmers and private landowners had planted land on the back of government incentives but now found themselves unable to harvest their crop.
“There are some farmers waiting 18 months to two years for a felling licence.
“It’s causing serious damage to the sector and it’s a massive disincentive for those considering planting when they see the nightmares experienced by their neighbours.”
Afforestation levels have collapsed with only 2,400ha planted in 2020 compared to the Government’s 8,000ha target.
“There’s a complete disconnect between the Government’s desire for greater afforestation and its actual commitment to the sector. Forestry is something that should have been positive with its green image but it’s turned into a shambles,” Glennon said.
You can’t have someone waiting more over 12 months for a decision
“We’ve been patient and understanding but the Government now needs to do two things. It has to throw all the resources it can to speed up the licencing system and it has to consider an amnesty for people waiting months for a licence.
“You can’t have someone waiting more over 12 months for a decision, it wouldn’t be tolerated in any other part of agriculture. There should be a time limit introduced.”