Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
975. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the implementation plan that was to follow the review of approval processes for afforestation in Ireland published in November 2019; the details of the engagement with stakeholders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3736/20]
Mr. Jim Mackinnon, CBE was engaged by my colleague Minister of State, Andrew Doyle, TD in July 2019 to review the forestry licensing approval process. Mr. Mackinnon, a former Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, had completed a similar report for Scottish Forestry.
The review was informed by, among other things, discussions with a range of stakeholders including the forestry sector, farming organisations, the environmental pillar, State Bodies, Teagasc and the Forestry Appeals Committee. In addition, written submissions were received. Mr. Mackinnon presented an interim report to a wide stakeholder group at the Forestry Programme Implementation Group (FPIG) meeting on 10 October, 2019, which was chaired by Minister Doyle.
Mr. Mackinnon returned to present the final report to the FPIG on 16 January, 2020 at which the Department also presented a draft implementation plan in response to the 'Ways Forward' recommended. The members of the FPIG were asked to provide their feedback on the draft implementation plan, which has now been received by officials of my Department. That feedback is being considered with a view to reconvening the FPIG to discuss next steps in the process.