Felling licence completion rates were low in 2020 according to Deputy Martin Browne
I asked department officials to account for the poor rate of licence completions in 2020 despite additional staff coming on board and the fact that the number of applications for last year was exceptionally low when compared to each year since 2017 - Tipperary TD Martin Browne
Tipperary Sinn Féin TD and member of the Committee on Agriculture has said that for the sake of the future of the forestry sector, the disproportionate focus on issuing licences to Coillte is among a range of issues that need addressing.
“At Friday’s meeting I asked department officials to account for the poor rate of licence completions in 2020 despite additional staff coming on board and the fact that the number of applications for last year was exceptionally low when compared to each year since 2017.
Above: Tipperary TD, Martin Browne
"In response to that the department conceded that much more needs to be done. Which continues to be a worrying issue in itself – an issue that was pointed to by all members that day.
"But officials also spoke of how the reduction in applications was largely due to a lack of applications on the part of Coillte.
Again and again we see a focus by the Department being put on Coillte applications. Take felling for example, and how recent months alone have seen Coillte application decsions dominating all others.
"This is a practice that needs careful scrutiny. While I accept that Coillte is important in the production of timber in this country, the department must ensure that its importance is not to the cost of the many private operators whose livelihoods are put at risk because their applications get stuck in the system.
"Despite what officials maintain, the licencing system across the board continues to operate below par and seems to be weighted in favour of the large operator. I will play my part in ensuring this is noted in the committee’s report, as will a range of other shortcomings in the processing of licences.