Coillte blames ‘communication problems’ for partnership non-payments

Coillte has promised to “work very hard to regain the trust” of landowners in the company’s farm-forest partnerships, following accusations of non-payments for three years by a number of partners.

Claims have been made by partners that Coillte has left them without the forestry income they were owed and had failed to even communicate with them for up to 20 years in some cases, according to RTE.

Speaking to RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning, the managing director of forestry at Coillte Gerard Murphy admitted the company’s shortcomings and promised to work to make amends with the affected partners.

Blaming “communication problems” at the state-owned body, Murphy acknowledged the complaints of landowners who have received no payment for forestry thinnings that have taken place on their land – which they have been entitled to for three years now.

Since 1993, Coillte entered into over 630 partnerships with farmers on an estimated 12,000ha of land. These old farm forestry partnerships are made up of about 30 different schemes based on various principles.

One of the many landowners to issue complaints was Julie Murphy from Co. Kilkenny, who entered into a partnership and is “enduring financial hardship and stress”, as a result of payment and insurance issues, as was recently covered by AgriLand.

Also Read: ‘My old farm forestry contract has left me in limbo’

One farmer speaking to RTE is Noel Copley, who said that Coillte harvested over 4,000t of timber from forest thinnings over the past five years; but, have paid nothing for the wood.

Partners have spoken of getting nowhere in attempts to speak to Coillte about their issues, being told by Coillte employees that such a matter was “not their department” and someone would phone them back – which never happened, according to one landowner interviewed.

‘Nobody will be left out of pocket’

Murphy said this morning that Coillte recently commissioned accountancy firm KPMG to validate the company’s payment and calculation methods, adding that he will give a commitment to all landowners that Coillte will work with them and honour all of its contractual obligations.

The managing directer said that nobody will be left out of pocket and that he expects all payments to be made in full in the next couple of months.

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