I propose to take Questions Nos. 348 and 364 together.
The Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020 includes supports for the establishment of new forest roads, to aid maintenance, thinning and felling a forest plantation. The scheme ensures that forest roads are constructed to a certain standard. Consent to construct a forest road is granted by way of licence.
All applications for forest road licences must be submitted by a registered forester on behalf of the applicant. This particular application was submitted by the company named on behalf of the applicant in April this year. Applications for forestry licences, including forest roads, are advertised on my Department’s website for a period of 30 days to provide for public consultation. During this time, interested parties may make a submission on an application. A site notice is erected at the entrance or proposed entrance to the site. The relevant prescribed bodies were advised of this application according to the criteria for referral to public bodies and invited to make a submission should they choose to do so. This process occurs in tandem with public consultation. Submissions received from members of the public or from prescribed bodies are reviewed by the District Forestry Inspector.
My Department is required to carefully vet all applications for forestry licences, with regard to their potential impact on the surrounding environment, habitats, archaeological monuments, on the social aspects of the proposal and to ensure that the proposal meets the required standards. The application referred to by the Deputy is still undergoing this process as the applicant decided to shorten the length of road. Any such modifications to an application will put the process on hold until the changes are finalised. Revised documents have been received and are being reviewed by the District Inspector.
Once a decision is made, it will be advertised on my Department's website. If approval is given, construction of the road cannot begin until after 28 days from the date of the decision. This is to allow for any appeals from either the applicant or third parties.