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AIL QUESTION 

  
  NO.   216, 217, 218, 219 & 220
  
  
 

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action that was taken in response to the report prepared by the National Parks and Wildlife Service on 2 December 2015 in response to parliamentary question number 634 of 1 December 2016 which reported that, under a licence granted for thinning for firewood (details suppled), up to 30 oak trees between 60 to 80 years old, with the occasional older tree had been felled in spite of a detailed condition in this licence requiring the retention of these specific oak trees.. 

- Clare Daly. 
 

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th November, 2016. 
  
[GFL 16107] 
  
Ref No: 34351/16 
 

 

To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if she had informed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine's Forest Service of parliamentary question number 634 of 1 December 2016 regarding felling in an ancient woodland (details supplied) in County Longford and the report provided to her NPWS confirming the felling of mature oak trees specifically protected in the licence to determine if a licence had been issued and to coordinate a response with the authority responsible for licensing the felling of trees. 

- Clare Daly. 
 

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th November, 2016. 
  
[Castleforbes Estate] 
  
Ref No: 34352/16 
  
To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the action she will take over the felling of the oak trees specifically prohibited under licence (details supplied), in view of the fact that the same operators are continuing to operate under two current licences for operations in this woodland. 

- Clare Daly. 
 

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th November, 2016. 
  
[GFL 161097] [GFL 178854 & GFL 18440] 
  
Ref No: 34353/16 
  
To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason after requiring a condition that no felling would take place during the restricted bird nesting season from March to September in the first licence issued for forestry operations in a heritage woodland (details supplied) in County Longford, a subsequent licence was never provided to the ranger for comment and was returned to the Forest Service without any recommendation.. 

- Clare Daly.  

*    For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th November, 2016. 
[GFL 16107] [GFL 178854] 
Ref No:   34354/16 
To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the details of any meetings she has held with the owner of a heritage woodland (details supplied) in County Longford; and the actions that were taken because of such meetings. 

- Clare Daly.  

*    For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 10th November, 2016. 
Lady Georgina Forbes, Castleforbes 
Ref No:   34355/16 
 

R E P L Y 

  
 

Minister for the Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Heather Humphreys, T.D.): 




I propose to take Questions Nos 216, 217, 218, 219 and 220 together. 
I am advised that the forestry activities referred to by the Deputy have been carried out under license from the Forest Service, which comes under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine. While my Department was consulted by the Forest Service as the woodland concerned is situated adjacent to, and partially within, a Special Area of Conservation, it is a matter for the Forest Service to determine if there were any breaches of licence conditions and, if so, whether any action needs to be taken in relation to such breaches under the provisions of the Forestry Acts. 
Consultation by the Forest Service with my Department’s National Parks and Wildlife Service in connection with tree felling applications may be considered at various levels within the regional management structure but no inference should be drawn by an absence of specific comment, as the responsibility lies with the Forest Service to make its own decision. 
There has been no meeting between officials of my Department and the owner of the woodland concerned.

 

 

Minister for Agriculture

If the Minister was aware of the felling of up to 30 mature oak trees in 2015 in a heritage woodland which had been specifically detailed for protection in the licence [GFL 16107] issued by his Forest Service?

 

If the Minister was aware of the felling of a 100 year old sequoia tree this spring in a heritage woodland in County Longford when his Forest Service  had been assured by the licenced operator [Scottish Woodlands] that no sequoia trees would be felled?

 

If the Minister could explain why a felling licence for an ancient broadleaf woodland was issued without the standard consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service [GFL 18440] when two other licences in this location [GFL 16107 & GFL 178854] were so referred?

 

If the Minister can explain why as a result of complaints received felling was suspended in an ancient woodland in County Longford on24 March of this year, permitted to continue on 12 April, and then halted again on 12 May 2016?

 

QUESTION NOS:  635,636,637,638

DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed)
by Deputy Clare Daly,Clare Daly,Clare Daly,Clare Daly
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 15/11/2016  


 
 
* To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the felling of up to 30 mature oak trees in 2015 in a heritage woodland which had been specifically detailed for protection in a licence (details supplied) issued by forest service.

- Clare Daly T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15 November, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the felling of a 100 year old sequoia tree this spring in a heritage woodland in County Longford when the forest service had been assured by the licenced operator (details supplied) that no sequoia trees would be felled.

- Clare Daly T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15 November, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the reason a felling licence for an ancient broadleaf woodland was issued without the standard consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (details supplied) when two other licences in this location were so referred.; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Clare Daly T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15 November, 2016.

* To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine the reason as a result of complaints received, felling was suspended in an ancient woodland in County Longford on 24 March 2016, permitted to continue on 12 April 2016, and then halted again on 12 May 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Clare Daly T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15 November, 2016.

  
REPLY.
Between 17th April 2014 and 23rd September 2015, three felling licence applications were submitted to my Department and approved in respect of the lands in question. These were as follows:

The first licence was for the thinning of 27.76 hectares and clearfell of a further 7.43ha

The second was  for the thinning of 66.32 hectares

The third licence was for the thinning of 14.34 hectares

The applications were processed by the administrative and inspectorate staff  in my Department.  In relation to the first two licaneces, as the area proposed for felling intersected with a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA), the views of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) were sought.

The area covered by the third licence lies outside of the SAC and SPA and involved thinning.  In these situations, referral to NPWS is at the discretion of the Forest Service, and it was deemed unnecessary in this case.

In March 2016, concerns about the felling were raised with the Department and at the request of the Forest Service operations ceased on site for the areas relating to the second and third licence.  At that time, felling within the first licence area had been completed.  Following discussions with the contractor and further site assessments by the Forest Service, NPWS and an ornithologist engaged by the operator, the Forest Service was satisfied that the operations were appropriate and that the licenses issued were in keeping with agreed procedures.  The request to cease operations was lifted on 12th April, conditional upon stated requirements.  A speedy resumption and completion of the felling work was sought in order to have the work completed before possible nesting began.  On 11th May, work on the site ceased and was scheduled to resume at the end of the Summer.

A basis for lifting the request to cease operations on the 12th April was the commitment of the contractor to retain sequoia onsite within the area of the second licence (unless overriding health and safety concerns arose).  There was no condition on the original general felling licence that required the retention of that specific species.

In recent days, the Department received a report that sequoia trees had been felled on site. The Forest Service inspected the site on the 9th November and noted that three sequoia stumps were observed in one of the two areas within which these trees are present, as previously indicated by the contractor.  In the opinion of the Forest Service Inspector the three sequoia appeared to have been felled in spring or very early summer and it appeared that the felled sequoia were quite likely to have been dominated by larger sequoias, as there continues to be a closed canopy following the removal of the trees.  Following this inspection, the contractor was contacted and he explained that three small sequoias were felled for the following reasons;

  • They were suppressed by the dominant sequoia overhead and therefore had little or no living crown remaining;
  • They were either dead or dying;
  • They represented a health and safety risk.


The Forest Service has not received any complaint regarding the felling of oak on this site.  Any information regarding possible illegal felling should be forwarded to the Felling Licence Section, Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford.

 

 

 

 

QUESTION NO:  219

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 24/11/2016  


 
 To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to parliamentary question number 636 of 15 November 2016, if he will clarify the records over reports of the felling of sequoias in an ancient woodland in County Longford (details supplied); and the steps he will take to ensure that the contractor and other contractors cannot ignore commitments made to the Forest Service. (Details Supplied) as the files show that he omitted part of the written ‘basis for lifting the request to cease operations on the 12th April’, failing to fully quote the grounds for felling the sequoias in question which he gave as ‘(unless overriding health and safety concerns arose)’ which in his Service’s letter to the contractor reads ‘(unless overriding Health and Safety concerns arise, in which case contract the Forest Service)’, and that no such contact was made, as he confirms by saying his Forest Service was unaware of any felling of sequoias until it received a report ‘in recent days’;
  
REPLY.


Following concerns raised in March 2016, the Department requested that operations would cease onsite, pending investigation. Operations subsequently recommenced based on an e-mail from the Department to the Contractor on 12th April 2016. This included an instruction regarding the retention of sequoia onsite, unless overriding health and safety concerns arose, in which case, the Department was to be contacted. 

The Department was not subsequently contacted by the Contractor regarding the felling of sequoia trees.

A report from the Friends of the Irish Environment, dated 9th November 2016, was received by the Department, stating that sequoia were felled on 13th May 2016. An inspection by the Department on the 9th November 2016 found the stumps of three sequoia trees, which appeared to have been felled in spring or very early summer. 

Following contact from the Department, the Contractor stated  that these three sequoia were felled for the following reasons: 

  • they were suppressed by the dominant sequoia overhead and therefore had little or no living crown remaining;
  • they were either dead or dying;     
  • they represented a health and safety risk.


The instruction regarding the retention of sequoia does not form part of the conditions of any of the issued felling licences. However, the matter concerning the breach of this instruction is being raised with the Contractor. 

QUESTION NO:  220

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed)
by Deputy Clare Daly
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 24/11/2016  


 
 To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine further to parliamentary question number 636 of 15 November 2016, if he will clarify his reply, on which he based his statement that the Forest Service has not received any complaint regarding the felling of oak on this site (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) as he was informed of the felling by an environmental organisation (Friends of the Irish Environment) on 16th May, 2016, his Private Secretary acknowledging this report on the 18th of May [Ref:2016/55571P], stating that he had forwarded the report ‘for the attention of the relevant Department officials’; providing documentation detailing the felling of approximately 30 oaks of between 60 and 80 years old of veneer quality timber, trees that had been specifically identified for protection under the Instructions issued with the licence [GFL16107] but which were felled in September 2014 in spite of the Instructions stating that ‘mature specimens of oak were to be found along the perimeters of these plots and therefore ‘to leave all Oak Holly and Roan standing’, and the contractor’s written statement [NPWS to Scottish Woodlands 11 December 2014] that the ‘resultant timber would be extracted by forwarded to the roadside where it would be sold as firewood’ these trees were felled and shipped to specialist hardwood sawmill [photograph of stacked oak labelled with sawmill destination ‘Clonmore’ provided]
  
REPLY.


I received a letter from Friends of the Irish Environment on 16th May 2016.  This letter was brought to the attention of the relevant Department officials and I issued a reply to this letter on 18 May 2016.  I can confirm that at the time the Department staff did not view this letter as a report of Alleged Illegal Felling.  This matter, of oak trees felled, is now being investigated.  

 

 

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