I ask the CEO Lar Power to have an assessment / report carried out for our County Development Plan 2022 - 2028 on the cumulative impacts of forestry on the social, community, environment, and economy of County Leitrim
To consider the following Notice of Motion submitted by Councillor Justin Warnock;
"I ask the CEO Lar Power to have an assessment / report carried out for our County Development Plan 2022 - 2028 on the cumulative impacts of forestry on the social, community, environment, and economy of County Leitrim."
Report by Director of Services for Economic Development, Planning, Environment and Transportation.
"The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Mr. Andrew Doyle, T.D., commissioned an independent report entitled ‘The Socio-Economic Impact of Forestry in Co. Leitrim’ led by Dr. Áine Ní Dhubháin of U.C.D. in 2019
The terms of reference of the study were:
1. to assess the social impacts of forestry in County Leitrim including the attitudes to forestry of people living there.
2. to assess the economic impact of forestry for County Leitrim including total employment supported by the sector;
3. to assess the impact of forestry on farm incomes relative to other types of farming;
4. to consider the non-timber outputs of forestry in County Leitrim;
5. to assess the current state of environmental regulation of forestry in County Leitrim.
It is respectfully considered that the assessment / report suggested has already been conducted.
Furthermore, the PPN representatives on the Strategic Policy Committee undertook an extensive public consultation exercise during late 2018 / early 2019 on the topic of forestry in Co. Leitrim. A significant document was prepared which presented the findings and recommendations from this exercise along with all of the responses received to their questionnaire. The purpose of the document was to inform policy in a way that reflects better the public’s view on forestry activities in Co. Leitrim and that contributes to community well-being. The secondary purpose of the document was to create a social record or commentary of the public’s experience of forestry in Co. Leitrim in 2019. This report has been forwarded to the Department for their comments and observations.
The Planning Authority is satisfied that there is a sufficient evidential basis already existing to inform the forestry policy framework which will be contained in the forthcoming County Development Plan."
Councillor Justin Warnock stated that the report led by Dr. Áine Ní Dhubháin of U.C.D. in 2019 did not address the social, community, environmental, and economic issues that forestry has caused in County Leitrim.
Councillor Justin Warnock outlined that a study must be carried out, as the County Development Plan needs to consider the views of the entire farming community, which is greatly impacted by forestry. Leitrim County Council have an opportunity through the County Development Plan to address the impact of forestry. Forestry is having a detrimental effect on County Leitrim and there is an obligation on Leitrim County Council to have an assessment/report carried out for County Development Plan 2022 – 2028.
Councillor Justin Warnock expressed his disappointment with the reply received in this regard.
Councillor Gerry Dolan supported the motion and said a study will have to be carried out on Leitrim because of the damage being caused by Forestry.
Mr Joseph Gilhooly said that it is respectfully considered that the assessment / report suggested has already been conducted. The PPN representatives on the Strategic Policy Committee undertook an extensive public consultation exercise in late 2018 / early 2019 on the topic of forestry in Co. Leitrim. A significant document was prepared, which presented the findings and recommendations from this exercise along with the responses received to their questionnaire. Mr Gilhooly advised that this report has been forwarded to the Department for their comments and observations.
Mr Bernard Greene, Senior Planner outlined that the Planning Authority is satisfied that there is a sufficient evidential basis already existing to inform the forestry policy framework which will be contained in the forthcoming County Development Plan and he outlined that the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine decide on Forestry Applications.
Councillor Brendan Barry said the County Development Plan has little or no power with regard to forestry as plantations do not require planning permission. Councillor Barry referred to the Bill that was brought before the Dáil by Deputy Kenny which would make forestry development over five hectares subject to Planning Permission but sadly this was refused.
Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan said that this is a political decision and she proposed that this issue also be raised with the Minster when the virtually meeting is scheduled in relation to the wastewater treatment systems.
Councillor Justin Warnock said that a forestry license application must be greater than 50 hectares before an Environment Impact Assessment is required. Councillor Warnock said there are now 32,000 hectares planted in County Leitrim, without an EIA ever having been required. He stated that Leitrim County Council cannot have a County Development Plan that will facilitate any further increase in forestry.
Councillor Enda McGloin said Minister Pippa Hackett has the responsibility for forestry and has introduced a €20.00 fee for submissions on forestry applications and €200 fee for appeals to the Forestry Appeals Committee.
Mr Joseph Gilhooly confirmed that Leitrim County Council as the Planning Authority are very aware of the views of the Elected Members on the issue of forestry. He informed the Members that carrying out such a survey will have little impact on national policy. Forestry license applications are granted by the Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine in accordance with current national policy.
Councillor Enda McGloin said that such a survey would cost an extremely large amount of money.
Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan said if the motion is passed, it is up to the Executive to source the funding.
Councillor Enda McGloin proposed that an amendment be made to the motion to include the words “subject to funding”, as the cost of the survey was not considered when adopting the 2021 Budget.
Councillor Justin Warnock stated that if the funding for the report was needed, it could be found.
Cathaoirleach, Councillor Mary Bohan stated that the Executive will have to make a call on whether it is feasible to produce such a study/report.