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. These include, inter alia , the possible impact on the timber industry, public access to recreational land, environmental and social impacts and consequential implications for the company.
As part of the process, 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. Drafts of the reports from all of the bodies were received at the end of November 2012. The consideration of those reports is ongoing.
I am aware that studies have also been undertaken on behalf of other interested parties groups namely, one by Peter Bacon and Associates, for IMPACT, the outcome of which was the report “Assessment of the Consequences of the proposed Sale of Coillte’s Timber Harvesting Rights – 10 January 2013” and another by EPS Consulting, for the Irish Timber Council, on “The impacts on the sawmill sector arising from the proposed sale of Coillte’s harvesting rights ”. Both of these reports provide useful background and insight into the concerns of the Coillte Unions and the Irish Timber Council respectively, and are being considered as part of the analysis. This whole process is a very complex one and, 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.