Huge delays in felling licences to be addressed

A Cork TD has called for a new strategy to deal with ‘huge delays’ in tree felling licences. 

Deputy Sean Sherlock, Labour Party Spokesperson on Agriculture, has said that there are still huge delays in tree felling licences with the NIS (Natura Impact Statements) option not viable for many applicants.

“It is just not feasible for applicants to retro-apply for a Natura Impact Statement which is above their costs and which may or may not speed up their application. Why is an NIS not factored into the original application?” Deputy Sherlock questions.

The Mallow-based deputy had asked Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, regarding the amount of delayed licences.

The Minister in his written reply, said that he fully recognised the impact the current forestry licencing delays are having on the sector at the moment.

“It is my immediate priority to resolve the issues which have led to this backlog and to issue licences in the volume needed for this important sector to continue to contribute to our rural economy.

“My Department receives applications and issues new licences every week and currently there are 3,000 felling licences with the Department for processing. Of this total, approximately 1,000 are Coillte felling licences.

“Some 1,000 are private licence which require ecology input on which a backlog has developed. The remaining private licences are at various stages of processing and do not generally experience the same delays as those that require ecology input.”

The Minister went on: “Our overall approach to tackling this is subject to continuous improvement and review with the aim of increasing the output of these licences on a weekly basis and there are 38 forestry inspectors, 16 ecologists and 11 administrative staff involved,” he said,

The Minister said in regard to the Natura Impact Statements, that the department had advised that in cases where a file requires Appropriate Assessment, if an applicant supplies an NIS, this will reduce the waiting time for a licence decision.