‘Supply of timber drying up’ due to felling and forestry licences issue

The government has been called on to “immediately address the crisis evolving within forestry as a result of serial objection to felling licences being issued”.

Making the call, independent TD for Galway East Seán Canney said: “The supply of timber for our construction industry is drying up, forcing sawmills to let go of workers and leaving us reliant on imports.

“This situation has arisen due to the licence system in place and the introduction of open appeals to the granting of felling licences.

Anyone anywhere can object to the felling licence and this has resulted in a logjam within the Department of Agriculture.

Deputy Canney said that the demand for timber is “not being met from local sources; the construction industry is not getting the timber” and that job losses are occurring in the sawmills, with issues within the supply chain “slowing down the rate of construction, especially housing”.

Solution to the issue ‘relies on committee being resourced properly’

He feels that the solution to this issue “relies on the licensing section and the forestry appeals committee being resourced properly to deal with licensing and appeals in a timely fashion”.

“There is a huge delay in granting the licence in the first place, often up to 15 months and the open appeals process is resulting in over one third of the licences being appealed,” according to deputy Canney.

The government also needs to visit the legislation to ensure that objectors have to declare their interest in the licence application and also pay a fee in order to lodge any appeal. It is imperative that this action is taken to safeguard the future of the Irish timber industry.

“Coillte is under severe pressure and has already cancelled most of its regular auctions this year and it does not have any forest available. Coillte normally provides 75% of the trees used for timber production in this country.”