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.