State support for forestry roads is to be reduced down to 40 per cent from the current 80 per cent, under new forestry programme for 2014-2020.This is according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney who was responding to a parliamentary question in the Oireachtas recently.

Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister if grant aid for the construction of harvest roads on planted land will be continued under the new Common Agricultural Policy arrangements?

Minister Coveney responded: “The construction of forest roads during the 2007 – 2013 programme period were exchequer funded under EU State Aid rules and therefore did not come under the Rural Development Programme.”

He said: “The new forestry programme for 2014 – 2020 will continue to be funded by the exchequer under state aid rules. These rules which are in draft form only, limit the level of State support for forest roads to 40 per cent of the total eligible costs as opposed to 80 per cent under the previous programme.”

On the programme the minister stated that: “The development of the new programme will be carried out in parallel with a Strategic Environmental Assessment which will feed into the development of the programme at scheme level. A tender for this work has been issued and work is expected to being in early March 2014.”

He cited: “It is therefore too early to make a statement in relation to the forest roads scheme at this time, other than to say that various options are currently being explored. A public consultation process will take place in June/July 2014 at which point more detail will be made available on the content of the proposed new forestry programme.”

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