LTWO Calls for Government Scheme to Support Landowners Impacted by Ash Dieback
The Limerick and Tipperary Woodland Owners (LTWO) is urging the government to introduce a new scheme to assist landowners and farmers affected by ash dieback. This comes after an independent review of government supports for plantation owners hit by the disease was published. The review, which was commissioned by Minister of State for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett, emphasizes the need for a state-led national and rapid coordinated response to ash dieback. It suggests that while the current clearance grant of €2,000 is reasonable, additional financial assistance should be provided for particularly challenging cases. The report also recommends that the government assess the current costs associated with re-establishment and maintenance of new ash plantations, taking into account the need for more intensive and regular maintenance due to the challenges involved in re-establishing these plantations.
Minister Hackett has stated that she is working with her officials to implement the recommendations outlined in the report. She emphasizes the importance of clearing the remaining ash plantations without unnecessary delay and encourages landowners to apply to the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS). Furthermore, she assures forest owners that any changes resulting from the independent review process will not disadvantage those who have applied to the RUS or availed of the 2020 reconstitution scheme.
Simon White, Chair of the LTWO ash dieback committee, has criticized Minister Hackett’s response to the review, deeming it “unacceptable.” He argues that it is insulting for the minister to encourage affected landowners to sign up for the RUS with the assurance that any changes made will be available to them. White asserts that the current scheme is ineffective and should be abolished immediately. He calls for the prompt introduction of a new scheme that incorporates all the recommended measures outlined in the review.
White emphasizes the urgency of granting permission to start clearing the dead and dying trees, stating that further delay only increases the losses for growers. He finds it disturbing that the minister and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) need to review the findings of their own review. White criticizes their consistent avoidance and procrastination on this issue. He notes that while the minister may view it as an exciting time for forestry, without proper support for tree growers to achieve maximum climate change mitigation, landowners will be reluctant to plant new trees. White asserts that the minister needs to restore confidence through action rather than mere words.
In conclusion, the LTWO is calling on the government to introduce a new scheme that addresses the challenges faced by landowners and farmers impacted by ash dieback. They argue that the current RUS is inadequate and that immediate action is required to clear dead and dying trees. They emphasize the urgency of providing proper support to tree growers to encourage reforestation efforts and mitigate climate change effectively. The ball is now in the government’s court to address these concerns and take decisive action.