Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Questions (197, 198)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

197. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte is unlikely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21884/13]

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Finian McGrath

Question:

198. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte is unlikely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21885/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197 and 198 together.

The current position in relation to the Government’s decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale is that 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 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. The consideration of those reports is ongoing.

As part of the overall analysis, good practice would dictate the need to assess various scenarios and conditions for the sales process. This process is a very complex one and, while the consideration process is at an advanced stage, I wish to stress that no decision has been taken, as yet. As indicated by the Taoiseach, the analysis is ongoing with its outcome to be considered by the Government collectively upon its completion.

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Questions (199, 200)

John Halligan

Question:

199. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update and progress report of his Department's considerations in relation to the possible sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21886/13]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

200. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update and progress report of his Department's considerations in relation to the possible sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21887/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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.

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Questions (201, 202)

John Halligan

Question:

201. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way he intends to maintain a sustainable forest strategy in the event that the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21888/13]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

202. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way he intends to maintain a sustainable forest strategy in the event that the sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte goes ahead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21889/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

I wish to stress that it is a concession for the harvesting rights which is being considered for sale. In order to preserve the forest estate, my Department’s long-standing policy is that replanting should take place following harvesting apart from exceptional circumstances. The replanting obligation is one of the issues that have been identified in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. While the consideration process is at an advanced stage, no decision has been taken, as yet.

In relation to maintaining a sustainable forest strategy, in addition to the replanting policy, the Forest Service of my Department promotes afforestation, on an ongoing basis, as a viable land use for landowners through the provision of planting grants and payment of annual premiums. A total of €112 million in funding for capital and current expenditure was allocated for the overall forestry programme in 2013, to facilitate the payment for close to 7,000 hectares of new planting this year.

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Questions (203)

Joan Collins

Question:

203. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will outline in detail the groups he has consulted with, or intends to consult with in relation to the possible sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21890/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

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.