Tuesday, 8 February 2022
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
My Department issued 4,050 forestry licences last year, which is an increase of 56% on the number issued in 2020, and met our revised target of 4,000 licences. It is our intention to build on this momentum in 2022.
I published a licensing plan for 2022 last week, detailing a range of forestry priorities for 2022. On licensing the main priorities are:
- A target of 5,250 new licences to issue, which is a year-on-year increase of 30%.
- A higher priority will be given to afforestation licences for 2022 with a 107% increase in output up to 1,040.
- There will be a year-on-year increase of 48% of private felling, roads and afforestation files. Coillte felling licences will maintain the levels they achieved in 2021.
- The Department will also refocus on the delivery of approvals from several schemes including Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS) (Ash Dieback), the Reconstitution of Woodland Scheme (Frost), the Native Woodland Scheme and a proposed small-scale planting scheme for up to one hectare of native species.
My Department will continue to issue progress updates weekly through our forestry dashboard and quarterly through a more comprehensive KPI update on implementation of the licensing strategy.
840. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the allocation in 2022 for a new system facilitating a pre-application engagement between the forester and his Department; the number of individual licences the pilot applies to; the types of licences the pilot applies to; when the pilot is due to conclude; if successful, when it is intended to roll-out the scheme more broadly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6721/22]
The Mackinnon report commissioned by the Department to review the processes and procedures for forestry licenses in Ireland, recommended that pre-applications discussions be implemented. This is intended as a tool to help foresters understand the regulatory aspects of a particular application through a pre-application discussion with the Department forestry inspector.
The details of this were worked out under Project Woodland and a pilot Pre-Application Discussion (PAD) opened on 18thJanuary 2022 and will run until 18thApril 2022.
The PAD is for afforestation proposals only. All registered foresters are invited to take part in a PAD if they have a potential afforestation site in the designated pilot areas. After the pilot, my Department will work with stakeholders to review the main outcomes from the pilot phase and develop a national roll-out plan.
841. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when it is planned to provide a financial contribution to afforestation applicants towards the cost of environmental reports; the intended allocation for 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6722/22]
The introduction of a grant to compensate for providing an environmental report during the application assessment process is currently being developed by my Department and expected to be introduced shortly. This is per the recommendations in the MacKinnon report.
Separately, a feasibility study on different payment approaches is also currently being undertaken. When this work is complete, the introduction of the grant, allocation, etc. will be finalised and notified to stakeholders.