Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
An application for a tree felling licence was received from the person named in October 2019. Every application for a forestry licence must undergo careful assessment for the potential effects the proposed operations may have on their own or in combination with other plans or projects in the area.
The Deputy will be aware that my Department made changes to the assessment procedures used when examining all forestry licence applications. These changes were introduced in response to important Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions and their subsequent interpretation by the Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC). These findings meant that, in order to grant licences which fully meet environmental requirements, fundamental changes to the licensing system were unavoidable. These changes, which are substantial, have led to delays in processing applications. My Department has devoted considerable time and energy to introducing a robust and workable system and is now recruiting significant extra resources, both ecologists and forestry inspectors, to address the backlog.
On initial examination of this application, it was determined that 10 designated sites were proximate to the tree felling site. The possibility that the proposed tree felling may have an impact on any one of these sites cannot yet be excluded. Therefore, officials of my Department will complete the Appropriate Assessment report and determination. It is also open to the person named to have a Natura Impact Statement completed by a suitably qualified person at their own expense and submit it for review by my Department’s Ecology Unit which can considerably speed up consideration of the file.
Once the assessment of the application is complete, the forestry inspector will make their recommendations, which will form the decision on the application. The decision will be issued to the person named and any person who made a submission on the application. The decision may be appealed to the Forestry Appeals Committee within 28 days.