Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Ceisteanna (997, 998)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

997. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of tree felling licences awaiting a decision that require a Natura Impact Statement. [8036/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

998. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of Natura Impact Statements requested from tree felling applicants by county in 2020, in tabular form. [8037/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 997 and 998 together.

The Deputy will be aware of the delays caused by changes to the licensing system which means that a significant number of cases now need ecological input to comply with environmental requirements. We are tackling these delays by means of a systematic project plan. We have invested heavily in resources including the recruitment of additional ecologists, forestry inspectorate and administrative staff, with extra resources to be added this year.

There are currently 1,890 files referred to our ecology team. Most files referred to Ecology will likely require an Appropriate Assessment. Without a detailed examination of each file referred to ecology it is difficult to give a precise number.

Of these, 1,123 are for tree felling licences from private landowners. Where files require an Appropriate Assessment, the Department is required to carry out an Appropriate Assessment Determination (AAD). This can be done by the Department itself carrying out an Appropriate Assessment Report to inform the AAD or by the applicant providing a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) to inform the AAD. The Department prioritises files where the applicant has provided an NIS.

When the NIS is received, it is assigned to an ecologist and is normally processed within two to three months of receipt. My Department has received a NIS from individual landowners for 120 tree felling applications since the establishment of the project to deal with the ecology backlog in July 2020, of which, 80 have been processed by the ecologists.

There are currently 39 felling applications assigned to ecologists for which a NIS has been received and which are being processed.

The following table shows a county breakdown of the 39 applications assigned to ecologists, for which a NIS has been received.

County

No. Assigned

Cavan

1

Clare

5

Cork

2

Donegal

1

Galway

7

Kerry

6

Kildare

1

Laois

2

Limerick

4

Mayo

4

Roscommon

1

Tipperary

2

Waterford

2

Westmeath

1

This table shows a county breakdown of the 1,123 tree felling licences awaiting assessment by an ecologist.

County

Screened In

Carlow

21

Cavan

29

Clare

100

Cork

130

Donegal

27

Dublin

3

Galway

54

Kerry

100

Kildare

30

Kilkenny

40

Laois

56

Leitrim

14

Limerick

90

Longford

2

Louth

6

Mayo

54

Meath

22

Monaghan

2

Offaly

30

Roscommon

24

Sligo

26

Tipperary

111

Waterford

35

Westmeath

36

Wexford

43

Wicklow

38

Total

1,123