Minister’s ‘Inaction’ on Forestry Programme Sparks Outrage

“Rural Independent Group Accuses Minister of State of ‘Inaction’ and Delays in Ireland’s Forestry Programme”
Minister's 'Inaction' on Forestry Programme Sparks Outrage

The Rural Independent Group of TDs has raised serious concerns about Minister of State Pippa Hackett’s alleged “inaction” and delay in Ireland’s Forestry Programme. According to the group, the delay in obtaining EU approval for the programme has had a significant impact on the sector, particularly affecting farmers who are unable to apply for planting due to the absence of technical approval.

Deputy Mattie McGrath stated that farmers who want to take advantage of the new grants and premiums cannot currently submit an application and will continue to be excluded from planting until state aid approval has been granted. He emphasized the urgency of opening the programme, which was announced over eight months ago.

Last November, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, along with Ministers Charlie McConalogue and Pippa Hackett, unveiled the new €1.3 billion Forestry Programme for the period 2023 to 2027. The programme aims to offer higher grants and premiums for tree planting compared to previous rates. The grant payment for native forests, for example, increased to €6,744 per hectare, while the premium payment increased to €1,103 per hectare.

The Rural Independents have criticized the lack of urgency and commitment to the forestry sector by Minister Pippa Hackett, stating that it has left many farmers frustrated and excluded from the benefits of the new grants and premiums. They also highlighted the lack of adequate information, which has caused confusion among farmers and stakeholders.

Deputy McGrath stressed the importance of promptly approving the Forestry Programme and making it accessible to all farmers. Currently, the programme’s approval is pending the European Commission’s State Aid approval process. He urged Minister Hackett to address these concerns transparently and take decisive action to support the forestry sector, which is already facing significant challenges.

In conclusion, the Rural Independent Group of TDs has expressed serious concerns about the delay in Ireland’s Forestry Programme and accused Minister Pippa Hackett of inaction. They argue that the delay has had a negative impact on the sector, particularly affecting farmers who are unable to apply for planting. The group emphasized the need for urgency in opening the programme and urged the minister to address the concerns promptly.