I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 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. Substantial work has been undertaken on the identification of the forestry assets involved, the determination of their value and the consideration of a number of issues associated with the proposed sale of the harvesting rights.
As part of the consideration process outlined above, the Coillte State Assets Steering Group, on which my Department is represented, also met with representatives of the Coillte Unions and the Irish Timber Council, in January and March respectively, to discuss the concerns of those groups regarding the proposed sale of Coillte harvesting rights.
NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department are currently considering the report by Peter Bacon and Associates, commissioned by IMPACT, containing an “Assessment of the Consequences of the proposed Sale of Coillte’s Timber Harvesting Rights – 10 January 2013”. The report by EPS Consulting for the Irish Timber Council, “The impacts on the sawmill sector arising from the proposed sale of Coillte’s harvesting rights ”, is also being considered as part of the analysis. The Government is fully conscious of the concerns that have been raised in relation to the Coillte sale proposal. The outcome of the overall analysis, which is ongoing, will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion with no decision to be taken on Coillte until it is discussed at Cabinet.