Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 14 December, 2004

Written Answers - Forestry Sector.

  267. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she can give an assurance that the review and appraisal of Ireland’s forestry development strategy by a company (details supplied) commissioned by her predecessor and presented in September 2004 will inform the negations with the European Commission for forestry funding under CAP 2006 — 2012; and the implications of any changes for the forestry sector. [33327/04]]

  268. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the changes in policy since the publication in 1996 of Growing for the Future: a Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland, which will form the basis of Ireland’s application for forestry funding 2006-2012. [33328/04]

  Mary Coughlan:I propose to take Questions No. 267 and 268 together.

Ireland’s application for forestry funding under the new rural development council regulation [498] 2007-2013 will be determined when the regulation is finally agreed in Brussels. At this stage, negotiations on the regulation are continuing and a final decision is not expected to be taken by Council of Ministers for several months.

The 1996 strategic plan, Growing for the Future, contains the main framework of forestry policy in Ireland at present. Policy is being reviewed in the light of the recent report, A Review and Appraisal of Ireland’s Forestry Development Strategy. I assure the Deputy that this report is being used extensively to inform the negotiations with the EU Commission on the draft rural development regulation.

Regarding forestry, our main concerns with the draft regulation are the proposed reduction in rates of aid for planting, from 100% to 40%, the proposed reduction in both the farmer and non-farmer rate of premiums and the reduction in the premium payment period, from 20 years to 10 years.