For Written Answer on : 15/06/2021
Question Number(s): 1166 Question Reference(s): 30488/21
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the impact that a delay to the issuing of forestry licensing is having on timber prices for the construction sector; the communication he has had to date with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage with regard to potential impacts on the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I am very much aware of the impacts currently being experienced by the sector as a result of delays in issuing felling licences. Prices for timber for forest owners has increased significantly in the last 12 to 18 months due to high demand for all forest products. This is an international issue and there are supply issues also being experienced in other European markets as timber is exported to others markets, including outside of the EU. Commodity prices have also risen across the board in a number of areas, including steel, concrete and plastics which together, with increased timber prices, is impacting on the cost of construction.
Ireland’s sawmill industry is highly competitive and supplies significant volumes of timber products for export to the UK. Over 80% of wood based panels manufactured in Ireland are exported to the UK and further afield. Ireland has always imported and exported timber and will continue to do so for the construction of houses.
Forestry, particularly the resolution of licensing issues, is a major priority for both myself and Minister of State Hackett who is responsible for the forestry sector. Under Project Woodland, the backlog and a review of licensing processes are being examined and recommendations are being made by the Working Groups in terms of improving the situation. We have committed to issuing 4,500 licences this year, a 75% increase on last year which I accept was a low year, and I fully expect to deliver on this promise. This year to date timber licenced is 59% higher than the same point last year.