Minister must act following latest abysmal forestry figures – Fitzmaurice

Immediate action from the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue is required in the wake of the latest abysmal figures from the Forest Service, according to Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

Deputy Fitzmaurice’s comments follow the publication of the Forestry Dashboard for the week ending July 9th, which indicated that just 22 licences were issued.

“While the Forest Service promised that it would deliver 100 applications a week to meet its target of 4,500, we are now beginning to see the reality. They were able to keep up the pace for a short time, but the critical problems within have come home to roost now.

“When is this minister going to decide that the Forest Service is incompetent, not fit for purpose, and that a major overhaul is needed to rectify this scenario? I have given this Department the benefit of the doubt. But a drop in productivity of 80% in a single week is simply not good enough.

“The Green Party leader Eamon Ryan talks of targets of 8,000ha of afforestation to assist with meeting climate change objectives, yet we only have 2,685ha issued in the seven months of this year to date. He appointed Pippa Hackett to the Seanad and she was given the role of Minister of State with special responsibility for forestry. And yet, no lasting improvements are noticeable when it comes the licensing fiasco.

“Given the thousands of applications on hold in the system, some for two years or more, the minister can longer delay taking drastic action,” Deputy Fitzmaurice concluded.