Further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be put forward 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 to date 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 that process, the Coillte State Assets Steering Group, which comprises of representatives from NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department met with the Coillte Unions on 25 January 2013 and with the Chairman and other representatives of the Irish Timber Council on 13 March 2013. The Group are currently considering the reports submitted by both of those representative groups, namely 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”, and “The impacts on the sawmill sector arising from the proposed sale of Coillte’s harvesting rights – February 2013 ”, a report by EPS Consulting for the Irish Timber Council. I understand that members of the Steering Group have also met with relevant stakeholders with the objective of receiving their perspectives on the sale. I am regularly updated by the officials involved in the consideration process about the views expressed at such meetings.
In addition, I have received through my Department the views, including the concerns, of the general public, recreational groups, the timber processing sector, trade unions and members of the Oireachtas in relation to the Coillte sale proposal.
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.