Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
Question 557: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will give consideration to exclude forest parks from any sale of Coillte Teo in view of their importance to local communities and tourism development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7572/12]
Simon Coveney (Minister, Department of Agriculture, the Marine and Food; Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
No decision has been taken by the Government in relation to the potential sale of Coillte. The consideration of a number of options in relation to the possible disposal of State assets, one of which is Coillte, is currently being undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, in consultation with relevant line Departments and NewERA.
I am aware that Coillte currently manages 10 Forest Parks and over 150 recreation sites throughout Ireland and that their forests provide a range of recreational opportunities for the general public continuing a long tradition of open access to state owned forests. I am also conscious that such recreational facilities are also very valuable resources as tourism attractions in the various regions. In view of the importance of such recreational opportunities for citizens for ongoing recreation and for visitors during their stay in Ireland, as I have previously advised the House, any potential sale would take account of public access to recreational land.