Private Felling Licence Decisions Take Twice as Long as Coillte Applications, Data Reveals
The average waiting time for private felling licence decisions in 2022 was more than twice the waiting time for Coillte applications, according to data released by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) took an average of 17 months to make a decision on felling licence applications from private forestry owners, compared to an average waiting time of eight months for Coillte applications.
The data was provided in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD and former Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe. Kehoe had asked for the average time it took to approve all afforestation licences, private felling licences, and Coillte felling licences granted by the minister’s department in 2022.
Minister McConalogue acknowledged that there was a year-on-year increase in the number of licences issued by DAFM last year. “We issued 4,713 licences, which was 1,100 more than applications received,” he said.
The breakdown of the data shows that 702 afforestation licences were issued, with an average waiting time of 17 months for a decision on those applications. Additionally, 718 licences were issued for forestry roads, with an average waiting time of 10 months.
In terms of felling licences, 1,686 were issued to Coillte in 2022, while 1,607 were granted to private owners. Minister McConalogue expressed a commitment to reducing the turnaround times for afforestation and private felling licences. He stated that his department would be implementing dedicated timelines for all forestry licences under the Farmers’ Charter of Rights, which is currently being finalized in consultation with farm bodies.
The extended waiting times for private felling licence decisions have raised concerns among private forestry owners. These delays can have significant financial implications for owners who are unable to proceed with their forestry operations until the licences are granted.
The forestry sector plays a crucial role in Ireland’s economy, contributing to rural development, job creation, and carbon sequestration. Streamlining the licensing process and reducing waiting times is essential for the sustainable management and growth of the sector.
Efforts to address the issue have been ongoing, with a focus on improving efficiency and transparency in the decision-making process. The introduction of dedicated timelines for forestry licences under the Farmers’ Charter of Rights is expected to provide clarity and certainty for private owners.
It is important that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine continues to work closely with all stakeholders to ensure timely and fair decision-making, while also considering the environmental and economic aspects of the forestry sector.
In conclusion, the data reveals a significant disparity in waiting times for private felling licence decisions compared to Coillte applications. The commitment to implementing dedicated timelines for all forestry licences is a positive step towards addressing this issue and supporting the sustainable development of the forestry sector in Ireland.