Forest industry: Department ‘consistently missing its own targets’

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine “is consistently making its own targets” with the current number of applications in its system “an astronomical figure”, according to Forest Industries Ireland (FII).

The industry representative body was reacting to Minister of State at the department Senator Pippa Hackett’s statement on the matter today (Wednesday, December 2), where she said the current number of forest licence applications in the department’s system is now 4,700 submissions.

Commenting on the minister’s statement, Mark McAuley, director of Forest Industries Ireland, said:

There are no licences that are not experiencing long delays. The department has fallen far, far behind and has not managed to make any inroads into the backlog; in fact the backlog is growing.

Accusing the department of “consistently missing its own targets” and describing it as being “way off the industry requirement”, McAuley said:

“The industry needs 500 felling licences each and every month from the department and unless they can produce that figure, they will always be behind.

“The industry requirement hasn’t changed just because the process has changed. The new system must be able to produce licences in just the same way as the old system.

Our industry is on its knees and thousands of jobs are at stake. If we can’t get our raw material, then the industry is dead on its feet.

“We have to see far greater output of licences right now if we are to stave off disaster. We need more resources and we need the licensing process to be properly managed and deliver real and consistent results,” the director concluded.