17 Jan 2022

Tipperary TD to quiz Minister and officials over tree felling licences

Tipperary TD to quiz Minister and officials over tree felling licences

Tipperary TD to quiz Minister and officials over tree felling licences File photo

There has been nothing but “broken promises and chaotic handling” of forestry sector over the summer, according to Tipperary TD Martin Browne.

The Minister of State with Responsibility for Forestry, Pippa Hackett, and senior officials are being asked to come before the Agriculture Committee once again following a drought in forestry licensing over the summer months.

“Our forestry and wood production sectors, as well as our emissions and sequestration targets have been stunted yet again with the continued failure of productivity within the Department of Agriculture’s forestry licensing section,” said the Sinn Féin TD.

Deputy Browne said that last month Deputy Hackett spoke of reduced productivity in the month of July due to a public consultation process on applications subject to appropriate assessments.

“We were promised an increase in the processing of licences in August in return. That hasn’t happened. Instead, August came to an end with just 33 licences issued in the last week of the month, while the entire month was even less productive than July,” he said

The Tipperary TD said that this was also happening despite additional staff being taken on in the ecology section.

“No less than full accountability can be expected of the Minster and Department officials,” said Deputy Browne.

He said that the handling of the forestry sector was putting its future and the carbon sequestration targets that had been set both at risk.

“Tipperary foresters agree that the crisis is far from getting resolved,” he said.

“How can we expect new entrants to the sector when its current operators are being failed so consistently,” he asked. “How can we expect to meet our emission reduction targets when the sector is subject to mismanagement.”

He also asked why, when the Department was carrying out studies into more successful forestry management practices elsewhere, it was continuing to fail to tackle its own weaknesses?

“These are just some of the questions that will be facing the Department at the Joint Committee on Agriculture later this month.”

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