Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (157, 161)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

157. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the research his Department has conducted on the impact that the sale of the Coillte forest crop will have on tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8606/13]

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Pearse Doherty

Question:

161. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that any plans to sell off the State’s forest assets pose a serious threat to the use of these forests by the people of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8605/13]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 161 together.

I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine that further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, NewERA have been actively engaging with Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to examine the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte’s forest assets.

The process is at an advanced stage and, aside from the valuation of the forestry assets, a number of issues have been identified in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. Public access to recreational land is one of the issues so identified which requires detailed consideration.  The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion and no decision has been taken as of yet. I have made my views known on the need to retain and protect mountain bike, cycling and walking trails on Coillte land irrespective of the sale of the harvesting rights.

Question No. 158 answered with Question No. 106.
Question No. 159 answered with Question No. 111.