Clare Senator Tony Mulcahy, Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, says the Government’s approval of a new Forestry Programme covering the period 2014 – 2020 is “a hugely significant development for Clare’s growing forestry sector”.
Clare received one of the highest levels of forestry premium payments in the country during 2014, according to Senator Mulcahy, who added that he was encouraged by the level of interest shown in the planting of forestry by landowners throughout the County.
The new Forestry Programme will consist of 11 separate measures and will involve total new spending of €262 million and a further €220 million in future commitments from 2020, mostly in relation to premium payments.
“The approval of this new programme underlines the Government’s commitment to further developing the sector, while it also shows that forestry remains an attractive land use option,” stated Senator Mulcahy.
He continued: “The programme will complement the considerable investment made in recent years to develop the indigenous forestry sector, as well as help Ireland to meet its climate emission targets through carbon sequestration and fossil fuel replacement. Importantly, the new programme strikes a balance between meeting the needs of a growing export-led processing sector and the need to maximise the environmental and social benefits that can be delivered by forestry and enjoyed by society.”
Senator Mulcahy says County Clare has benefited under a range of forestry schemes in recent years, including the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme, the Woodland Improvement Scheme and the Native Woodland Scheme.
“The new afforestation scheme in particular will be welcomed by both landowners and the forest industry as significant improvements have been made to the original proposal which was circulated for public consultation back in September 2014.”
“Other schemes such as the Forest Road Scheme have in the past funded the construction of harvesting roads, as well as improved the environmental and biodiversity value of the forests, improved the economic value of the forests, provided access for emergency vehicles, and provided drying and chipping areas. Under the newly announced Forestry Programme, support will be made available for the construction of up to 690kms of new roads to provide the necessary infrastructure for greater timber mobilisation as well as improved access for thinning and other management operations,” added Senator Mulcahy.
Ireland’s formal application for State Aid approval is currently being considered by the EU. Tom Hayes, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry, met with the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Phil Hogan, last week.
Programme documentation is available over the coming days on the Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie.