Sen Garret Ahearn: 'Urgent action' needed on licences to safeguard 740 Tipperary forestry jobs
Urgent action needs to happen if the forestry industry is to be protected, according to Fine Gael's Senator Ahearn.
Sen Ahearn spoke with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in the Seanad last week and requested an update on the number of forestry licence applications backlogged in the Forestry Service further to indications that there are 4,600 licences waiting approval and the ongoing threat this poses to rural jobs, planting targets and Ireland's climate ambitions.
"I have been in contact with constituents who are becoming increasingly worried about the delays in forestry licencing approval by the Department. It has become an issue of concern within the sector. The forestry sector provides 740 badly needed jobs in Tipperary. The sector also contributes some €2.3bn to the economy annually and plays a major role in combating climate change,” he said.
Last week, it was reported that a staggering 4,600 forestry licence applications are backlogged in the Forestry Service; this was despite the fact that DAFM has consistently stated that circa 2,000 forestry licences were backlogged.
Sen Ahearn asked the Minister to elaborate on the correct backlog of numbers and to also specify a timeline as to when the backlog will be cleared.
Minister McConalogue stated “My immediate priority is to resolve the issues which have led to this backlog and issue licences in the volume needed for this important sector to continue to contribute to our rural economy. There is no instantaneous solution, but we are making significant progress. My Department is working with a great degree of urgency to accelerate the pace at which licences are issued, and to ensure that the system in place stands the test of time and meets all the legal requirements”.