My Department is required to carefully assess all forestry licence applications to ensure that, among other things, environmental and landscape considerations are taken into account and that appropriate prescribed bodies are fully consulted.
On the site in question, archaeological artefacts were identified and the application was therefore referred to my Department’s Archaeologist for their input. In tandem, the application was referred to prescribed bodies, An Taisce, the local authority and the relevant Inland Fisheries Board.
Following a discussion with the Registered Forester, consideration was given to changing the species to be planted. This was particularly important for this site, as the change was from conifer to broadleaves. This site is adjacent to a SAC and the choice of species was of the utmost importance, as it would feed into the Appropriate Assessment Screening. The applicant was contacted in November 2018, requesting a decision on the species.
In January 2019, correspondence from the Registered Forester noted that the applicant wished to continue with the species chosen. In March 2019, the applicant and Registered Forester were asked to resubmit information in view of the surrounding SAC. A Natura Impact Statement (NIS) was also requested and received from the applicant.
The information received is currently being examined by my Department.