Chair of the Farm and Rural Affairs Committee at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Denis Drennan, has said that the problem within Irish forestry is not due to a lack of ambition but, rather, “administrative chaos”.

“The problem is not the ambitions of this or previous plans. The problem is the absolute chaos and inertia within the department [Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine] and, specifically, within the ecology section,” he said.

And, he added that he cannot see how the Forestry Licensing Plan 2022 will deal with a “completely seized-up” forestry sector.

According to Drennan, the ICMSA is aware of plans being submitted up to 18 months ago to which an official response has still not been received.

This is leading to a lack of confidence in the forestry sector among farmers.

This needs to change for the sector to develop, he said, adding that “government press releases certainly won’t solve the issues”.

The Farm and Rural Affairs Committee chair added that the “chaos” within Irish forestry is the latest example of “hyper-regulation and ambitious targets colliding and effectively cancelling each other out”.

In many other areas of Irish farming and agriculture, he said, there can either be “microscopic supervision of the process, or some momentum behind the process itself”.

“But we can’t have both,” he said.

The forestry sector remains “chaotic and unworkable”, which he said is “absolutely and entirely the fault of the regulatory bodies”, as well as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

A fundamental review and simplification of procedures are needed for change to happen and this needs to be accepted by the government, he said.