Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Approval on forestry road aid restarts

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Forest Service officials began to issue approvals for forestry road grants again last week after the sector was spared any major cuts in the Budget.

It is understood that letters of approval were sent out to forestry owners as early as 24 hours after Minister for Finance Brain Lenihan announced the forestry spend for next year would be €114.5m.

Although this represented a 2pc decrease on this year's spending, it was less than forestry owners had feared would be imposed.

Sean Connick TD, Minister of State with responsibility for forestry, said the €114.5m allocation was tangible evidence of the Government's continued commitment to forestry and would fund the planting of 7,000ha of new forestry next year.

IFA farm forestry chairman Pat Hennessy said that the 2pc cut to the forestry budget was acceptable in the current economic climate, and brought the forestry programme funding back to last year's levels.

He welcomed the Government's commitment to an afforestation programme but stressed that funding for the forest-support schemes had to be increased significantly in the next 12 months.

"Such was the demand for the Forest Road scheme in 2010 that the funding was exhausted within four months and farmers were not able to take advantage of this year's high timber prices," Mr Hennessy said.


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He said at least 15pc of the capital forestry budget should be allocated to support schemes such as road building.

However, John Phelan, of the Woodland Group in Galway, maintained there was sufficient money available for both new plantings and road building.

It is understood that €72m will be spent on forestry premiums, €6m on second instalments of grants, €24m on new afforestation, €5.4m on current expenditure and €2m on bioenergy schemes for willow and miscanthus, leaving €8m available for support schemes such as road building.

Irish Independent