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Forestry Sector

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 28 June 2022

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Ceisteanna (945)

Martin Browne

Ceist:

945. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of reconstitution and underplanting scheme applications that are being processed; and the length of time that applications have been with his Department in increments of six months. [34475/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Since the first finding of ash dieback disease in Ireland, my Department has provided support totalling over €7 million to owners of ash plantations impacted by disease through the Reconstitution Scheme (Ash Dieback) (introduced in 2013) and more recently the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS – Ash dieback) introduced in July 2020.

Applications for RUS are received regularly, and decisions are issued as the assessment of the applications are completed. 

The table below shows the total applications received, approved and on hand, including the area, since the commencement of the Scheme up to and including 17 June, 2022.

Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (Ash Dieback)

Total

Applications received

706

Decisions issued

237

Awaiting decision

469

A total of 155 applications were decided in 2021 for a total of 492ha.  A total of 389 applications were received in 2021, covering 1,628 ha.

The table below shows the breakdown of the applications on hand and the year in which that application was made.

Year received

Number awaiting decision

June to December 2020

93

January to June 2021

70

July to December 2021

304

January to June 2022

2

Thus, number awaiting a decision is 469.

As the Deputy is aware the Forestry Licensing Plan 2022 was published earlier this year and deals with projected licensing output and approvals for support schemes and may be found here gov.ie - Forestry policy and strategy (www.gov.ie).

A key target of the plan is to refocus on the delivery on approvals from the Reconstitution and Underplanting Scheme (RUS) (Ash Dieback).  However, the 2022 Plan does not include an annual target as many RUS applications are screened in for Appropriate Assessment and are referred to ecology.  Of these, any that propose replacing the ash crop with conifer species currently require planning permission. We have had successful engagement with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in relation to this requirement for planning permission. From those discussions we expect that legislation to remove the requirement for planning permission in all cases under 10 hectares will be introduced after the Summer recess.

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