Dáil debate this week on making forestry developments over 5ha subject to planning permission

Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny will bring a bill to second stage in the Dáil on Thursday evening (October 22) which would make forestry developments over 5ha subject to planning permission.

Deputy Kenny first introduced the bill in 2018 and has said that forestry plantations have a “significant impact on people living near them, so should be subject to planning permission like any other development”.

He continued:

“Planning permission for forestry is something that is needed throughout the state. Permission is currently only required in order to plant more than 50ha, which is a very large area.

As a result, very few people have had to apply for planning permission in respect of forestry developments over the years. What is particularly concerning is the type and scale of forestry that is evident in many parts of the country and the visual, environmental and societal impact it has.

“The visual impact is certainly something I see in my part of the world, where we have large areas of forestry – mainly Sitka spruce and pine forests – which grow and block out many people’s access to light.

“Many people have built or bought houses with a beautiful view of a lake or mountains and within a couple of years forests have grown in front of them and they have no right to object and no right to say anything to anyone about it.”

The TD said that “various groups” around the state support this bill and some local authorities, including Leitrim County Council, have tried to regulate forestry over the years, with cross-party support.

“In the last Dáil term, Fianna Fáil indicated that its TDs would support this bill and now that Charlie McConalogue is the Minister for Agriculture, I will be very disappointed if the bill does not progress.”

The bill will be debated in the Dáil on Thursday and voted on next week.