Minister Hackett to appear at Oireachtas agriculture committee

Minister of State with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett will come before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine today (Tuesday, November 17).

Representatives from Coillte will also be in attendance. The minister and the Coillte representatives will attend in two separate consecutive sessions, beginning at 4:00pm this afternoon.

The meeting, which can be viewed online in Committee Room 4 of Leinster House, is the latest in a series which is focused on the challenges faced by the forestry sector, and this will be the third time in less than six weeks that the committee will discuss these matters.

This will be the first appearance by Minister Hackett since she was appointed to the role, and it will also be the first appearance of Coillte before this committee during the current Dáil term.

Ahead of the meeting, committee chairperson Jackie Cahill said: “The challenges faced by the forestry sector have certainly been articulated in our recent committees…and we look forward to investigating further the very serious delays in the issuing of licences for planting, tilling and felling of forestry and the failure to meet our targets for planting.

“Like every other organisation, Coillte faces challenges during Covid-19 Level 5 restrictions. Its forests are open, but of greater interest to the committee is the long-term sustainability and supports required for the sector,” the Fianna Fáil TD added.

The development of the forestry sector has certainly gained pace since the establishment of Coillte more than 30 years ago. As a sector it needs to build on this now as an essential part of our rural economy.

“Pre-Covid, it was suggested by Coillte that the industry had the potential to double in size over the next 10 years, so in light of recent events and the challenges faced as outlined by previous witnesses, we very much look forward to Tuesday’s update, and the input of the minister of state,” Cahill concluded.