Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, has called on the Minister for Agriculture to intervene and delay Coillte entering into a joint venture with a British investment fund.
Teachta Carthy first raised concerns regarding the venture in November in the Dáil, pointing to the experience of the Scottish forestry sector which experienced ‘an explosion of corporate ownership’ in the sector ‘at the expense of local communities.’
Teachta Carthy said:
“A good forestry strategy is one that delivers for the environment, for local communities and for the economy – Coillte’s proposed joint venture will deliver none of these.
“This venture appears geared entirely towards circumventing existing rules which prohibit Coillte from receiving state subsidies for afforestation by partnering with company that will be motivated primarily by profit rather than any climate or biodiversity objectives.
“Bizarrely, a key part of the proposed venture includes the sell off of up to 12,000 hectares of existing forestry under Coillte management.
“The only reason government would support this venture is crystal clear – to cover their own failures.
“The government, with Green Party Minister having responsibility for forestry, have failed to come close to their own afforestation targets of 8,000 hectares per annum. In fact, they reached just 30% of that target in 2022. The failures of this government in this respect will have longstanding implications for Ireland’s Climate Action obligations.
“What amounts to a massive sell-off of state lands to foreign private investors is the product of this governments failure to deliver on forestry – and the price in the medium-to-long term will be borne by and in local economies, communities and the environment.
“I am also particularly concerned of the effects this venture could have on our domestic commercial forestry sector, and knock-on effects it could have on their ability to support our farmers re-enter the sector.
“This is something that the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture wished to examine, and I am calling on Minister McConalogue to intervene and delay this venture from proceeding until the Committee completes its considerations.”