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MEP for Ireland south Sean Kelly has asked the European Commission to ensure that those who want to set forests in Ireland are facilitated to do so.

He addressed the delay within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) concerning the processing of planning applications to engage in logging.

The MEP has raised issues around the management of forestry in Ireland in the European Parliament today (Thursday, June 9).

He said illegal logging in the EU has to be tackled and eliminated, if at all possible, however, he added, in Ireland it is the opposite problem.

“We can’t get legal logging because of rules by the DAFM,” the MEP, who is also the current leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament, said. He explained:

“A lot of the logging that should be taking place can’t go ahead, which means that the industry has to import logs and timber from abroad – while we are sitting on mature forests here in Ireland.”

Further addressing the planning-permission backlog in the European Parliament today, the MEP said the DAFM tried to blame the issue on EU legislation.

“Especially for not meeting the afforestation target,” MEP Kelly said, “until of course this was disproved”. He added that only 2,000ha are met compared to the target of setting 8,000ha/year.

Many countries in the EU do not have similar rules around forestry as the DAFM, according to the MEP.

“So it was the department adding their own version of what should apply, trying to say that they would do so because of EU legislation.

“Which is not true, because if it was, it would apply right across Europe, which it doesn’t,” the MEP said.

He also asked the European Commission to consider Treemetrics, a company in Ireland, which recently launched a climate-smart forest management platform.

“I think that’s something that could be very helpful, and I would ask the commission to look into it,” MEP Sean Kelly said.

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