Hackett called on to present forestry proposals ‘for full Dáil debate’

The Minister for State with responsibility for forestry, Pippa Hackett, has been called on to put forward her proposals for the sector for “full debate in the Dáil”.

Sean Sherlock, the Labour Party’s spokesperson on agriculture, said that “forestry commitments” outlined by Minister Hackett in a public consultation that concluded last Friday (August 28) “must be underpinned with swift legislative action to restore clarity for those seeking felling licences and allow transparency for the public in decisions made”.

“We need further clarity in respect of the right of the public to make observations and appeal decisions,” the Cork East TD said.

A balance must be struck between ensuring that licences are granted to fell, and ensuring that targets to achieve greater forestry cover are met.

“Now the public consultation has competed I hope that Minister Hackett, along with the new Minister for Agriculture, will present these proposals for full debate early in this Dáil session,” Sherlock added.

Public consultation

The deadline for submitting feedback on a draft of an amendment to the Agriculture Appeals Act 2001 closed on Friday.

The purpose of the amendment is to “align forestry licencing and appeals processes”.

AgriLand previously reported that the government is to proceed “speedily” with the implementation of a number of forestry-related commitments in the Programme for Government, according to Minister Hackett.

Minister Hackett has outlined the measures to be implemented, which include:

  • A proposal to amend the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001, to align the forestry licencing and appeals processes with the planning processes;
  • The development of a new scheme for the creation of native woodlands on state and other public lands;
  • The development of a new portal to enhance public participation in forestry decision-making in Ireland;
  • The appointment of an independent chair, to be identified, to lead the implementation of the MacKinnon report into the approvals process.