Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue will meet with Coillte on Thursday (January 19) in relation to its partnership with UK asset management company Gresham House.
Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett, who has responsibility for the forestry sector, will also attend the meeting.
The partnership between Coillte and Gresham House was announced earlier this month. The aim of the deal is to roll out a new ‘Irish Strategic Forestry Fund’.
The fund will purchase land for the development of forestry.
This partnership has been roundly criticised by farm and forestry organisations, as well as some TDs. There have been calls from these quarters for the minister to intervene in the deal.
Also this week, the minister will meet with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine to discuss a number of issues in the forestry sector.
Minister McConalogue will hold a briefing with the committee members on Thursday in Leinster House.
This meeting is not part of the committee’s regular schedule of meetings.
In a letter to the committee dated January 11, both Minister McConalogue and Minister Hackett said they will meet the committee to brief them on two new interim forestry schemes.
The minister has approved an interim afforestation scheme and an interim forest road scheme based on the De Minimis rule – which effectively makes the schemes exempt from state aid rules.
These schemes were introduced on January 3.
The new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme is subject to state aid approval by the European Commission before it can be implemented in Ireland.
It is understood that the department is engaging “bilaterally” with the relevant directorate-generals in the commission in relation to securing approval for the 2023-2027 Forestry Programme.
But Agriland has learned this process could “take months”.
It is for this reason that the two interim schemes have been introduced.
In the letter, the ministers also said that officials from the department will be on hand during the briefing to discuss the level of forestry licencing activity that is expected during the duration of the interim schemes.
Despite the planned topic of the meeting, it is understood that some committee members will use the opportunity to quiz the ministers on the Coillte and Gresham House deal.
In what is a busy week for the Oireachtas agriculture committee, it will also meet in an official sitting to discuss the EU’s Nature Restoration Law.
Members will hear from Humberto Delgado Rosa, an official from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment.
Delgado Rosa works in areas such as biodiversity, land use, and nature conservation.
The meeting will take place at 4:30p.m in Committee Room 4 of Leinster House on Wednesday (January 18).