Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), Pippa Hackett, has stated that it would be “inappropriate” for department officials to disclose the specifics of ongoing negotiations with the European Union (EU) regarding the forestry programme. Hackett’s response comes after the Social, Economic Environmental Forestry Association of Ireland (SEEFA) called for her resignation due to delays in implementing the new programme. The Irish government has submitted its proposed €1.3 billion forestry programme for 2023 to 2027 to the European Commission for approval. State aid approval is required under the commission’s guidelines for the new programme. SEEFA, the representative body for the private forestry sector in Ireland, expressed outrage that the new forestry programme has yet to be implemented. The organization believes that its members have been misled about the proposed scheme, leading to detrimental effects on their businesses. SEEFA argues that the failure to implement the programme by the extended deadline of January 2023 indicates negligence and a dereliction of duty on the part of Senator Hackett. SEEFA further claims that the absence of an operational forestry scheme, the first time since the beginning of private forestry in Ireland, reflects a lack of interest from Minister Pippa Hackett in advancing commercial forestry. In response, a spokesperson for the minister stated that the department has been actively engaging with the European Commission to obtain approval for the forestry programme. The controversy arose following the appearance of two DAFM forestry officials before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine on July 5th. The meeting was suspended as committee members sought further clarification on the department’s response to environmental concerns raised by the EU Commission regarding Ireland’s new forestry programme. However, the spokesperson for Minister Hackett argued that it would be inappropriate for officials to discuss the ongoing negotiations, and any suggestion of withholding information is disingenuous. They emphasized that forestry is a crucial policy within the Climate Action Plan, and the minister and her officials are fully committed to delivering an ambitious forestry programme as soon as possible.
Hackett: EU Forestry Talks Off-Limits, Says It’s ‘Inappropriate’
Minister Hackett Declares Inappropriateness in Discussing EU Forestry Negotiations