16 March, 2017
Dear Minister Humphreys,
We refer to the felling of oak trees at Castleforbes, Co. Longford, without any consent and your response to Parliamentary Question 41091/16 on January 17th 2017 in regard to this matter.
While you state ‘There is excellent co-operation between my Department and the Gardaí in these matters’ we are concerned that your Department became aware of the alleged commission of an offence at Castleforbes in 2015 and did not pass the information to the relevant authorities responsible for enforcing the terms of the licence and prosecuting the offender.
Your failure to provide the information contained in a Report from the Parks and Wildlife Service on foot of a question by Deputy Bannon in December 2015 demonstrates that no such cooperation existed in this case with the result that the time period in which an offence may be prosecuted expired. It was only after many months of questions under Access for Information on the Environment and Parliamentary Questions by Deputy Daly that the offence has been confirmed.
We consider that it is part of your and your Department's duties to facilitate the enforcement of relevant legal provisions protecting our natural heritage and that when you become aware of the alleged commission of an offence this duty includes notifying any relevant enforcement authorities.
We would be grateful if you could clarify:
- Do you agree that it is part of your and your Department's duties to pass on information like this to enforcement authorities?
- Do you have a policy in this regard?
- Why was the necessary information not given to (Garda? Forest Service?) in this instance?
- What policies and procedures have been or will be put in place to ensure that your Department notifies other authorities in relation to the alleged offence and supplies whatever information it holds to them?
We look forward to your response in relation to this matter.