IFA Farm Forestry chair, Jason Fleming, said that the planning exemption on applications of fewer than 10 hectares that replace broadleaf high forest, such as diseased ash forests, with conifer species is a positive step.
“This legislative change is positive and will simplify the application process,” said Mr Fleming.
He said the requirement to apply for planning permission under the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme – Ash Dieback (RUS) – was delaying the application process and adding unnecessary bureaucracy to managing the ash dieback disease.
Farmers whose applications were being processed under the RUS scheme, and have yet to be decided upon, will benefit from the legislative change. All applications are required to be screened by DAFM for Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA).
“I hope this legislative change as well as the Minister’s commitment to review the RUS scheme in early 2023 signal a new willingness to better support farmers affected by this devastating disease,” he said.