Independent Laois-Offaly TD Carol Nolan has said that sawmills and farmers in Laois and Offaly have asked her to investigate why there is a noticeable slowdown in the number of Tree Felling licenses being granted and extended by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, confirmed to the Dáil that while in 2016, a total of 6,514 licences were issued; only 2,948 licences had been issued by the summer of this year.
There are also considerable delays in regard to the extension of existing licenses.
“The capacity to fell trees if and when it is necessary is vital to farmers being able to maximise productivity and land use.
“It is also vital that they are granted prompt extensions to their licenses in order to be able to continue with their work which will in turn supply the sawmills and protect much needed employment in rural Ireland.
“I’m aware that changes were introduced under the Forestry Act 2014, and that these changes included important exemptions for farmers and that is to be welcomed. Nevertheless, I will be asking the Minister to clarify if a subtle shift in policy is being implemented, because at the moment there is certainly an impression out there that it is getting harder for landowners to obtain and to extend a tree felling licence.
“I will be raising all of these issues this evening with the Minister following the tabling of a topical issue on this matter which needs a prompt resolution concluded Deputy Nolan.”