Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (173)

Andrew Doyle


173. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has commissioned a report on State forestry and the future of Coillte; the date on which he commissioned the report; the person appointed to conduct the report; if he has received a copy of the completed report and the date on which he received same; the main points of the report; if he has had the opportunity to review its content in full and its implications; the date on which he intends to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21670/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An in-depth review of national forest policy is currently being finalised. This review, arising from a Government commitment that such be undertaken, commenced in 2010 and was undertaken by a group consisting of representatives of the forestry sector. The review of forestry policy is currently in the process of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), which includes consultation with statutory bodies and the general public. It is anticipated that the process will be concluded by the end of July after which it is planned to issue the report, taking account of any further inputs received during the SEA process. A review of Coillte was also undertaken as part of the process. While significant work was undertaken by an interdepartmental group dealing exclusively with the role, functions and operations of Coillte, the deliberations were superseded by the Government Decisions in 2012 in relation to the sale of state assets which encompasses Coillte.

While I have not formally commissioned a report on State forestry and the future of Coillte, a number of detailed financial, technical and other specialist reports were prepared for Coillte, by external specialist consultancy bodies, in full consultation with the Board of Coillte and its executive management, as part of the analysis undertaken on foot of the Government's decision, in June 2012, that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte's forests be considered for sale. NewERA, Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department have worked to examine the financial and other implications of a potential transaction, with NewERA liaising with the bodies engaged to undertake specific aspects of that examination. Drafts of the reports from all of the bodies so engaged were received and consideration of those reports is ongoing. While the consideration process is at an advanced stage, no decision has been taken, as yet. The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its completion.