Legal Advice: My neighbour is planning to plant a forest around my land. What can I do?
Our solicitor tackles this issues and looks at the options available
I have 120 acres of land, with little road frontage. In fact most of my land is surrounded by the land belonging to one neighbouring farmer, who actually passed away a year ago and left the farm to his nephew. The land is marginal and some of it was in forestry and now the nephew is planning on planting the entire farm, as he has no interest in farming the land.
I can’t afford to buy the land and I don’t know if any of my children will go farming. But I’m concerned about being enclosed by forestry. My wife and I live in the house and it’s just about 150 yards to the boundary ditch which is where some of the forestry will be. His land meets mine for about three quarters of my farm and I’m worried it might devalue my land and present welfare issues with deer and badgers coming closer to my land.
Dear reader, the Irish forestry and timber industry contributes approximately €2.3 billion to the Irish economy and supports around 12,000 jobs according to Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Hotriculture Andrew Doyle, who spoke at the National Forestry Conference in May. Forestry is becoming big business and can unfortunately, create situations like yours.
You say your neighbour is planning to plant a forest and I wonder how far along the process he is as that determines what you can do. All proposed afforestation developments must receive prior written approval (called Technical Approval) of the Forest Service. Details of the Forest Service can be found on the Department of Agriculture’s website.
Applications are processed by the Forest Service and there are a number of requirements, for example, a Forestry Inspector must assess the application and make a recommendation, and if there are any environmental issues, then the application is referred to the appropriate authority, be it the Inland Fisheries Ireland or the relevant Local Authority.
Perhaps the most important requirement from your point of view is the requirement of a site notice to be erected at the entrance from the public road to the land to which the application relates. This requirement was introduced by the Forestry Act 2014 and the Forestry Regulations 2017 on May 24 last.
The sign must be clearly visible and legible by persons using the public road and must not be concealed at any time. It must be erected for a period of 5 weeks and contain details of where further information about the forestry application can be obtained. However, if Technical Approval was obtained, or the application for Technical Approval was submitted, prior to May 24, 2017, this would not have been a requirement at that time. Therefore if your neighbour is at a more advanced stage of the process, such a site notice might not have been erected.