Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
856. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will be issued on a felling licence application submitted in May 2018 by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in making a decision in relation to the application despite assertions made by them that they expected the new procedures being put in place early in the year to process such applications would impact positively on the current backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5898/20]
The Deputy will be aware that my Department has made changes to internal Appropriate Assessment Procedures (AAP), which has resulted in delays to some files. These changes to the AAP were required following important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) and others. All forestry licences issued by the Department undergo a legal consent process.
The Habitats Directive (Article 6.3) requires that where a plan or project is likely to have a significant effect on a Natura site, either individually or in-combination with other plans or projects, it must undergo an appropriate assessment of its implications for that Natura site.
The felling licence application, for the person named, is within the Maumturk Mountains SAC and upstream from Lough Corrib SAC. At this stage, potential adverse impacts of the proposed clear fell operations on the Qualifying Interests of the SACs cannot be ruled out and, therefore, a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) will be required.
A request for the NIS will now be sent to the person named. On receipt of a NIS from a suitably qualified person, further assessment of the application will take place.