Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

'I thought I could depend on them': Coillte admits to harvesting timber from farmers land but not paying them

The company admitted taking trees out of some farmers lands but not paying them.
The company admitted taking trees out of some farmers lands but not paying them.
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

State forestry company Coillte has admitted to harvesting timber from some farmer’s forests without paying.

The issue arose in relation to a number of the company’s farm partners whose crops matured at a faster rate than expected.

Farmers were due to get annual payments after 20 years from thinning, a process which sees weaker and poorer quality trees removed to improve the future value of the timber.

However, speaking to RTE Radio this morning Gerald Murphy, Managing Director of Coillte Forestry said some crops were highly productive and were thinned earlier

“We went in earlier it was well maintained and managed. But there was a disconnect between that and the payment system. We are working very hard to rectify the situation,” he said.

One landowner 73-year-old Noel Copley told RTE that over 4,000t of timber has been taken out of his forest, but he has received no payment.

Another landowner Gerry Queenan from Roscommon said the reason he went into partnership with Coillte was because he thought he could "depend on them and that everything could be done right".

He says there is no maintenance or correspondence from Coillte.

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“We have looked at the spirit of it and what we are going to do is actually pay out the annual payment

“He will be paid an annual payment starting in the next couple of weeks. He will be paid on an annual basis over the next 10-15 years depending on the lifetime of the forest.

“In terms of the context, we have over 630 partners. In most cases, they are paid on time in terms of the annual payment.

“We have had a very small number of cases were because it was a highly productive crop. The thinning started earlier before the payments were due to start,” Murphy said.

He added that one of the reasons Coillte went into farm partnerships was to encourage greater participation with afforestation.

“The feeling that forestry is a long-term venture. It takes 30-40 years but providing them with security in terms of an annual payment gave them a lot of reinsurance to invest in forestry, he said.

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