Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
At the present time, there are a large number of forestry-related applications currently awaiting the completion of the Appropriate Assessment (AA) process. This process is a legal requirement to rule out the possibility of an adverse effect on a European Site (SACs or SPAs). The Department is acutely aware of the impact the delay is having on many applicants as well as the wider sector and is focused on addressing this delay and applying the necessary level of scientific rigour in relation to each AA process. The Department has assigned significant additional resources to reduce this backlog. These resources are a combination of additional ecologists, forestry inspectors and administrative staff, where required.
The licence application referred to is currently waiting to be reviewed by a Department ecologist and unfortunately it will take some time before an ecologist can be assigned to work on an AA Determination for this application. The current estimate is over 9 months. Submitting a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) for the licence would, however, significantly reduce the length of time it would take for the Department to complete the AA process for this application. On receipt of a satisfactory NIS, the length of time it would take to complete the AA process is estimated to be between 2 and 3 months.
If the applicant wishes to submit a NIS, they should notify the Department at email@example.com. The Department’s ecologist will provide written guidance by describing the issues on which the NIS must focus.