Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Questions (195, 196)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

195. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has studied the international experience of privatisation of public forests, particularly in New Zealand and the brief experiment in Sweden, in his consideration of the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21882/13]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

196. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has studied the international experience of privatisation of public forests, particularly in New Zealand and the brief experiment in Sweden, in his consideration of the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21883/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 196 together.

Further to the Government's decision 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. As part of that process, similar international transactions and precedents were considered in detail to identify issues that arose in those transactions and to learn from those precedents. In-depth comparative analysis is essential here as different ownership structures or marketing conditions may apply in those countries. The precedents examined included those in Australia and New Zealand.

As the Deputies may recall, the outcome of the debate on the proposed sale of Coillte harvesting rights was that the Dáil acknowledged from evidence gathered from similar transactions completed in other jurisdictions that a transaction can be structured in such a manner as to include provision for the maintenance of the Open Forest Policy reflecting public access to recreational land, the continuation of the existing replanting obligations, and the incorporation of biodiversity requirements, and the Dáil also noted that it is the Government's intention that similar appropriate provisions will be included in any sale of Coillte harvesting rights.