Cuts avoided but ash future is uncertain
Prior to the Budget, I mentioned that there was a rumour circulating of a planned cut of 7pc in the forest premium.
The good news is that this measure was not included as part of the proposals.
Moreover, the general forestry budget remains pretty much intact.
Some €116m has been allocated for the investment programme in forestry which is at the same level as this year.
The Department states that this will allow afforestation grants and premium rates to be maintained at the same level and will support approximately 7,000ha of new planting.
While being a long way short of the targets envisaged in the 1996 strategic plan for the development of the forestry sector, we have to be grateful that the status quo remains.
Consequently, the rate of afforestation grants remains in the range €1,500-5,000/ha, depending on the land category, species and species mix.
The corresponding rates of premiums lie in the range €155-515/ha.