Coillte revelations have 'damaged' forestry: Doyle
Minister calls on Coillte to restore trust and blames 'legacy problems' for payment delays to farmers
Forestry Minister Andrew Doyle has challenged Coillte to undo the "damage" done to the confidence of farmers and other potential tree growers.
Mr Doyle said the revelations of the past week over payment delays and a lack of contact by Coillte in long-established forestry partnership schemes had damaged ongoing efforts to promote forestry in Ireland.
"There is no doubt that damage has been done and there were serious legacy problems with Coillte.
"The big challenge now for the organisation is to resolve these problems as quickly as possible and that will be the ultimate test of them," Mr Doyle told the Farming Independent.
His comments come as the Government is to offer higher grants and premium rates for planting trees in a drive to increase afforestation rates to help achieve targets on climate change emissions. Ireland has fallen short of the targets of planting 7,100ha a year as the attention focuses on emissions from agriculture.
The Wicklow Fine Gael TD (pictured inset), who has a direct knowledge of the forestry business, said that the Coillte problems were "legacy issues." He said some of it was due to the recession and recruitment embargoes which reduced the numbers of foresters.
"Maintenance is required, be it in land, machinery or business relationships. And it is clear that has lapsed in some cases. Now that must change," added Mr Doyle, ahead of meeting Coillte in the coming days.