* Teagasc Forestry News – Photograph – Forestry Trade Ireland
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 will come into force as and from 24 May 2017. The Forestry Act, 1946, will be repealed on that date.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. Important points to note are that:
Felling Licences issued before 24 May 2017 will be issued under the Forestry Act, 1946. Following the commencement of the Forestry Act, 2014, a Felling Licence granted under the Forestry Act, 1946, will be deemed to be a licence granted under Forestry Act, 2014. Felling Licences issued on or after 24 May 2017 will be issued under the Forestry Act, 2014. This will include felling licence applications which were received in the Department prior to 24 May 2017 and the licence issues on or after that date. 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 Site Notices on sites proposed for afforestation or the construction of a forest road.
All Afforestation and Forest Road applications submitted for approval as and from 24 May 2017 must have a Site Notice appropriately positioned on the site.
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 on or after 24 May 2017, the licensee shall erect a Site Notice, seven days prior to the commencement of and remain in place for the duration of harvesting operations.
Site Notice Afforestation (word doc) Site Notice Felling (word doc) Site Notice Roads (word doc) Appeals
Section 35 of the Forestry Act, 2014, provides for the setting up of a Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) on a statutory basis to deal with appeals against licence applications for felling, aerial fertilisation, afforestation and forest road works. In the case of afforestation and forest road construction the appeals relate to Form 1 applications only and include appeals by third parties.
The Committee will be set up under the independent Agriculture Appeals Office and its membership will comprise of Appeals Officers appointed by the Minister. All payment appeals under the Schemes (Form 2, Form 3, Form 4, Form 5) will continue to be dealt with by the Agriculture Appeals Office.
The time limit for receipt of an appeal to the Forestry Appeals Committee will be 28 days from the date of the decision. This time limit will apply to both applicants and all third parties. This will mean that no forestry operation (including felling) can proceed for a month after a positive decision has been received in order to allow time for any third party to object.
Contact your local Forestry Advisory Staff Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Approvals Section, Forestry Division, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford. Tel: 076 106 4415; email Forestryappenq@agriculture.gov.ie <mailto:Forestryappenq@agriculture.gov.ie>.
More information from: www.teagasc.ie/crops/forestry/advice/general-topics/forestry-act-2014/