The current rate of forestry licences being processed and approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will cause ‘job losses’, one TD has warned.

Carol Nolan, an independent TD for Laois-Offaly, said that, unless there was a “rapid and dramatic escalation” of the number of licences being processed, then “job losses within the sector will become unavoidable.”

Nolan was speaking after the director of Forest Industries Ireland, Mark McAuley, said that issues remain with accessing timber and planting new forests.

Nolan noted that the department is at present getting through 45 licences a week, compared to an industry requirement of 125.

“Despite the rhetoric emerging from the department around improved processing times and attempts to address the ecology-related backlog, it is now clear that none of this appears to be having any positive impact on the ground,” Nolan claimed.

She added: “I find it deeply alarming that even after endless parliamentary questions and committee engagements on this crisis, that the problem is persisting, seemingly without end.”

She argued that the forestry industry requires “rapid reform”, followed by “a more comprehensive review of forestry regulation”.

“It was also made clear that Ireland is seriously out of step with our European neighbours and have created a system that is far too cumbersome and costly.

“All of us will be concerned…that the situation remains precarious and that unless the licencing numbers improve dramatically Irish jobs and the sector’s significant potential to address Ireland’s climates targets will be threatened,” Deputy Nolan concluded.