Leitrim councillors move to curb the level of afforestation in the county
Leitrim county councillors have unanimously agreed to amend their County Development Plan in a bid to curb the level of afforestation in the county.
In a development which campaigners say has echoes of the successful anti- fracking campaign in the county, councillors approved three motions to amend the plan, despite reservations from the executive about the legal implications of such a move.
The issue has now been referred to the council’s economic and planning special policy committee which has been charged with developing a formula of words which will ensure the amendment complies with national government policy and does not affect the rights of landowners.
Welcoming the councillors’ decision, Edwina Guckian, a member of the Save Leitrim lobby group which was established last January, said the cross-party support for the motions reflected widespread community concern about the level of afforestation in the county.
She said she believed people power would be an important part of this campaign with many of those involved in the fight against fracking, now highlighting their concerns about the proportion of Sitka spruce plantations in Leitrim.
Save Leitrim estimate that the 14,000 hectares of forestry plantations in Leitrim account for 50pc of the agricultural land.
Guckian said that the scale of afforestation was soaring.
“We know from the Department figures that 1700 acres were planted in Leitrim in 2017 – and in the first eight weeks of this year, licence applications were received for 600 acres”, she said.