Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Sale of Coillte's Harvesting Rights: Discussion with Society of Irish Foresters
If the Chairman wants to use that comparison, that is fine. However, if one wants to set up a semiconductor plant in Limerick and enter into an agreement with an energy supply company, it will agree to supply the plant as long as one keeps paying. I agree that there has to be a market for logs but my point concerns thinnings. I live in Scariff, County Clare, and grew up in the foothills of Slieve Aughty so I know the area. I also know how sterile the whole area is as a result of deforestation. There is a single crop from Scariff to Gort, over to Loughrea and back again. More or less one crop predominates. It was planted in some areas where it is doing very well, but is doing horrendously badly in other areas. There is no economic benefit from it, yet those areas are being damaged. They were ordered to be clear felled by the European Commission, and that has happened. I know the area and also know that there is a load of thinnings coming on line there, but nobody knows what will happen to them. Industries could be developed around processing those thinnings, yet no one can develop them because nobody can get a supply contract from Coillte. Is that usual or unusual in the European context? Coillte has supply contracts for its own factories. There might be an anti-competitiveness issue there, but nobody has ever taken it up. The Irish attitude to competition is quite unusual, as the IFA would know.