Higher forestry payments proposed under new plan

The governments proposed Forestry Programme is set to include new increased grant and premiums rates for new afforestation projects.

Tom Hayes, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for forestry, has today announced details of the proposed new Forestry Programme covering the period 2014 – 2020.

Launching the latest round of public consultation, the Minister said that he was “encouraged by the level of engagement by stakeholders so far and was happy to announce that the number of premium payments being proposed is now 15 instead of 12 as set out in the earlier consultation document issued in March 2014”.

The Minister added that “this was a significant improvement on what was originally proposed and is particularly noteworthy given that the premium rate has also increased by 10% for the most popular grant category”. The Minister also signalled a proposed small increase in some grant rates. The plan has been designed to encourage more land owners to invest in forestry with the introduction of two premium payment scales where applications greater than 8 hectares will receive a higher premium and, secondly, the inclusion of a single rate of premium for farmers and non farmers to incentivise non farmers to plant trees under the new scheme.

Changes are also being proposed to the forest road scheme in terms of the area of eligibility and the timing of payments. In addition it is proposed that a grant of up to €5,000 for special construction works be provided and support for connecting to existing forest road networks. The Minister commented that “The grants for special construction works will be targeted at applications falling within Natura 2000 sites and other environmentally sensitive areas; the aim will be to encourage the building of infrastructure that will help minimise any adverse effects on water quality that might arise from harvesting activity”.

The proposed Programme has now been released for public consultation, alongside an Environmental Report on this new plan for forestry. Following the public consultation process the proposed Programme will be submitted to the European Commission for their approval.

The closing date for submissions, on both the new programme and the Environmental Report, is 5.00pm Monday, 13th October 2014. Further information on the consultation process is available on the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/publicconsultation/

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