The long awaited Forestry Act 2014 has finally been commenced. It came into force in May when the previous Forestry Act from 1946 was also repealed.
Regulations governing afforestation, forest roads, aerial fertilisation and last but not least tree felling have changed a good bit. So, what does this mean for us?
Control of Felling
The Forestry Act, 2014 introduces a single licence process for tree felling (right). New felling licences can be valid for up to ten years and extended for another five years.
When a tree felling licence application is received, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine will publish a notice of the application before making a decision. This allows a person to make a submission or observation to the Department within 30 days from the date of the notice.
Once a licence for the felling of trees is granted, a Site Notice is required seven days prior to the commencement and for the duration of harvesting operations.
The new Forestry Act also provides for a range of scenarios where trees can be felled without the need to submit a tree felling licence application. I will look at such scenarios in more detail next time.
Control of Afforestation and Forest Road Works
The application process, consultation and environmental screening relating to afforestation and forest road construction remain unchanged.
The big change however is that all afforestation and forest road applications now require a Site Notice. The Site Notice must be maintained for five weeks from date of receipt of the application.
Control of Aerial Fertilisation
There is no substantial change to the regulations governing aerial fertilisation. A licence is required prior to application. Such operations are not allowed between the beginning of September and the end of March.
A Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) will be set up and will be part of the Agriculture Appeals Office. It will deal with appeals against licence applications for felling, aerial fertilisation, afforestation and forest road works. The time limit for receipt of an appeal will be 28 days from the date of the decision. This means that no forestry operation can proceed for a month in order to allow time for any third party to object.