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For Written Answer on : 20/03/2024
Question Number(s): 1056 Question Reference(s): 13056/24
Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
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QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine if his Department has concluded its consideration of the report on supports for landowners affected by ash dieback; if so, when he expects his department’s ash dieback action plan to be presented to Cabinet for approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

A detailed Ash dieback action plan is being prepared by Minister of State, Senator Pippa Hackett for submission to Cabinet for approval next month. This will outline comprehensive actions by my Department to deal with the issue of ash dieback. Detailed deliberations are taking place to ensure an efficient, appropriate and proportionate response.

As part of the Forest Strategy Implementation plan, Minister of State, Pipa Hackett, has established a Forestry Strategy Consultative Committee (FSCC) to support this work. Members of the FSCC have been selected from a broad range of relevant stakeholders. This Committee will establish a range of sub-groups to inform its activities, and in this regard will convene a specific subgroup which will work as a task force to ensure a greater level of engagement and action on ash dieback and other forest health matters.

In July 2023 my Department launched the Reconstitution scheme for Ash Dieback under the new Programme 2023-27 with the following enhanced features:

  • 100% increase in the site clearance grant rate, from €1,000 to €2,000.
  • Enhanced replanting grant rates under the new Forestry Programme 2023-2027.
    Those applicants whose sites are still in premium will continue to receive the premium due for the remaining years.
  • In addition, for those in receipt of farmer rate of premium, a top up premium equal to the difference between the equivalent forestry type and the existing premium will be paid. This will be calculated for the remaining years left in premium and paid in a single sum.


So, for example, a forest owner with 10 years of remaining premium who enters into the Reconstitution Scheme to plant FT1 (native forest), could receive a lump sum payment of €6,355 per hectare.

My Department continues to issue approvals under the Reconstitution scheme. There are now over 500 land owners representing 1,900 hectares, whose plantations were affected by ash dieback, that have approval to carry out reconstitution under the terms and conditions of the Reconstitution Scheme, under the new Forestry Programme.  I would urge ash owners who have not yet availed of the scheme to assist them in clearing their sites and replanting, to do so now. They will not be disadvantaged in relation to any further initiatives under the action plan.