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Forestry Act 2014

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD, has signed the Commencement Order for the Forestry Act, 2014, which brings the entire Act into force. The Minister also signed the Forestry Regulations 2017 (SI No 191 of 2017) which are made under the Act setting out the provisions for licensing (consent) for afforestation and forest road applications, aerial fertilisation licensing and felling licences.

The provisions of the Act and the regulations came into force on 24 May 2017. The Forestry Act, 1946, was repealed on that date.

This regulation, replaces the European Communities (Forest Consent and Assessment Regulations), 2010 (S.I. 558 of 2010) and the European Communities (Aerial Fertilisation) (Forestry) Regulations, 2012 (S.I.125 of 2012).

The main changes introduced by the Act and regulations are outlined below.

Control of Felling

The principal changes are as follows:

  • Introduces a single licence process for tree felling;
  • Increases the list of exempted trees to allow felling without a tree felling licence for trees outside of the forest in certain circumstances;
  • Allows for felling licences of up to 10 years in duration, which may be extended for one or more further periods, not exceeding a total of 5 years;
  • Introduces timelines for processing felling licences;
  • Where a tree felling licence application is received, the Department will publish a notice of the application before making a decision on the matter. The notice shall state that any person may make a submission or observation to the Department within 30 days from the date of the notice.
  • Where a licence for the felling of trees is granted, the licensee shall erect a site notice at the entrance from the public road prior to the commencement and for the duration of harvesting operations.

Control of Aerial Fertilisation

The provisions of S.I.125 of 2012 have been subsumed into this regulation and there is no change to the arrangements for application and processing of these applications. As has applied up to now, aerial fertilisation is prohibited during the period from 1 September to 31 March of the following year, unless where the Minister considers that exceptional circumstances so warrant.

The new regulations retain the same limits for permissible fertiliser types, concentrations and application rates, and revise the exclusion zones for certain environmental sensitivities.

Control of Afforestation and Forest Road Works

The regulation closely mirrors the provisions of S.I. 558 of 2010 relating to consent for afforestation and forest road construction. The application process, consultation and environmental screening remain unchanged.

The significant change in relation to licensing or consent for afforestation and forest road construction is the introduction of a requirement for the placing of appropriately positioned Site Notices on sites proposed for afforestation or the construction of a forest road. 

All unexpired afforestation and forest road approvals issued before the commencement date of 24 May 2017 will continue to be valid under the law.

Relevant Site Notices

Licences for Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme and Forest Road Works

The Site Notice must be maintained in position for a period of not less than five weeks from date of receipt of the licence application by the Department. If the Notice is removed or becomes illegible it must be replaced within that period. The contract number (CN) must be included on the Site Notice.

Tree Felling Licences

Where a licence for the felling of trees is granted, the licensee shall erect a Site Notice, seven days prior to the commencement of and remain in place for the duration of harvesting operations.

General

Licence applications for Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes, Forest Road Works and Aerial Fertilisation and Tree Felling Licences will be published on the Department’s website. A period of 30 days is allowed for public consultation during which a submission or observation in relation to the licence application may be made in writing (by post or email) to Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford; email forestryappenq@agriculture.gov.ie. The Department may grant a licence with our without conditions, or may refuse to grant a licence.

Applications may be inspected at the offices of the Forest Service, at the above address, between 9.00am and 4.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays) or may be purchased for a reasonable fee, by making a request in writing to the postal address or email above.

Appeals

The Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) has been established on a statutory basis (Section 35 of the Forestry Act, 2014) to deal with appeals against licence applications; that is, approvals for afforestation and forest road works; aerial fertilisation and tree felling. For afforestation, forest road works and aerial fertilisation, appeals relate to Form 1 licence applications only. Provision has also been made for third party appeals. The FAC will be part of the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

A 28-day time limit for the receipt of appeals, from the date of decision, will apply to applicants, in the event of a negative decision or in relation to any licence conditions; and third parties appealing a decision to grant a licence or any licence conditions. In order to allow for third party appeals, no forestry operation, including felling may commence within this 28-day limit.

Appeals to the FAC must be made in writing to Forestry Appeals Committee, Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co Laois. The appeal must include the facts and contentions upon which the appellant intends to rely together with any documentary evidence submitted in support of the appeal.

Further information

The Forestry Act 2014

This video outlines the main points of the Forestry Act 2014, explains how to make a felling licence application and gives an overview of the DAFM’s felling decision tool.