Calls have been made for “immediate Government action” to address what is being described as “a crisis in the forestry sector”.

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) farm forestry chairman, Vincent Nally, has said that forestry felling licences that have not been issued is causing “a very precarious situation” to arise for these forestry owners.

Continuing, he stressed: “Unless licences start to issue, the contractors and foresters that are vital to the management of the forest resource will not survive.”

Nally said the time for excuses is over, and called on the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to “start issuing licences”.

“This crisis is costing farmers hugely, they are unable to harvest their timber and many are being forced into a non-management situation, which means they will not be able to realise any income from their investment until the clearfell.

The IFA has tried to work with the department at all stages and recognises the work that has been done in recent months to update the Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP), but we need to see the issuing of licences.

Continuing, the forestry chairperson reiterated: “Farmers needs licences, the sector needs licences, it cannot function without licences.

“One blockage that could be addressed immediately by Government is the increasing costs and conditions imposed by local authorities under the planning process.

This could be resolved if Section 8 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 – which would exempt the construction of forest roads from the planning process – was triggered.

Concluding, Nally claimed that the current impasse shows “a complete disregard” for forest owners, the forest industry and the Climate Action Plan.