I propose to take Questions Nos. 529 and 530 together.
Regarding the figures provided in Dáil question number 707 of 18th May, the 1,937 ha are afforestation licences issued this year. This figure is now 2,336 with the addition of more recent approvals. These licences have a validity period of three years.
Therefore, they remain valid and financial approval may be sought any time up to 2024, and the site planted thereafter. The 675ha mentioned refers to tree planting which has been paid for this year, up to the end of April. A site may be planted and an application for grant-aid may be submitted but it is only counted in our figures as planted when the payment claim is submitted, approved and paid.
As regards the carry over of 4,500 approved hectares, it is entirely up to applicants whether they wish to realise the licence granted. I encourage all applicants to do so and to avail of the generous premiums available for afforestation. The Department has written to sectoral representatives to consider whether anything else can be done to improve the conversion from approval to planting.
As regards the commitment to issue 4,500 licences this year, an increase of 75% on last year, the proportional estimated breakdown presented was based on those issued in 2020 i.e. 65% of forestry licences issued were tree felling; 20% afforestation and 15% forest roads and is an estimate. This output remains our commitment.
As regards the breakdown of tree felling licences issued between Coillte and the private sector, last year 49.62% were private and 50.38% were Coillte. I remind the Deputy that the Department regularly publishes an extensive range of forestry statistics on the Department’s pages of the Government of Ireland website.