New laws could see planning permission required for forestry development

Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

A new bill introduced to the Dail this week could require planning permission to be obtained for new forestry developments.

Sinn Fein Agriculture Spokesperson Martin Kenny, has drafted the bill and claims planning permission for forestry is something that is needed throughout the country.

While he said the plantation of forestry is positive and is something that our society needs he highlighted that currently forestry can be planted without practically any planning permission at all.

Currently, planning permission is only required in order to plant more than 50 ha of forestry. Mr Kenny says this is a very large area and as a result, very few people have had to apply for planning permission at all over the years.

“What we are really concerned about here is the type and scale of forestry that is evident in many parts of the country and the visual, environmental and societal impact it has.

“The visual impact is certainly something I see in my part of the world, where we have large areas of forestry, mainly, Sitka spruce and pine forests, which grow and block out people's light. In many places on the landscape we see them break the horizon.

“They completely destroy people's lives. Many people built or bought houses with a beautiful view of a lake or mountains and within a couple of years forests grew in front of them and they have no right to object and no right to say anything to anyone about it, he said.

Kenny said there is a need to regulate the industry and ensure “we will not destroy communities by having the wrong type of forestry in the wrong place”.

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“It needs to be done in places where people want it. It is a very poor sign of our society when people object to the growing of trees beside them.

“We need to sit up and listen and realise there is something wrong and that it is a problem that needs to be addressed,” he said.

According to Kenny, the way to address it is through the obtaining of planning permission in order that people will know what is going on in their community, that they will see a sign going up and that they can object to it if they believe there is a problem.

Through the Bill, Kenny suggests planning permission be required for any block of forestry of more than 5 ha.

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