Tipp Councillors back call to ban sale of Irish forestry

Golden Vale - view from the Galtees towards the Knockmealdowns Photo © Tipp FM

A local councillor is calling for a ban on the sale of privately owned forest land in Ireland.

Councillor Pat English put forward a Notice of Motion at this month’s meeting of Tipperary Council to request that the government ban forestry from being bought by foreign and national investment funds.

This comes following Coillte’s multi-million euro agreement with UK investment firm Gresham House to buy up new and existing forestry in Ireland.

There was unanimous support across the council chambers from local representatives for the motion, which was then passed, and officials will now write to Senator Pippa Hackett expressing their disappointment in Coillte’s selling of what he described as one of “Ireland’s best nationally owned assets.”

Cllr. English told Tipp FM that there were better alternatives available that would have benefited farmers.

“The right option would have been for Irish farmers to plant forests on their own land; that is what the government should be telling Coillte to do. Similar controversial plans to sell off England’s public forest estate were abandoned by the British government recently after an expert panel called for the woodlands owner by the forestry commission to remain in public ownership.

“The most saddening part is that the venture is being enabled by the Irish government through Coillte, and Irish taxpayers will be paying for the sale of rural Ireland’s forestry to investment funds.”

The WUAG councillor says Tipp has plenty of privately owned forestry that should be kept for future generations.

“This proposal is giving investment funds an unfair advantage at the expense of existing Irish farmers, new entrants, and young farmers here in Ireland. We have an awful lot of forestry in Tipperary and on the border in Waterford, and there are an awful lot of farmers that have invested some of the money over the years, and they’d be hoping that their sons or daughters will be able to keep that up. We’re giving up our assets like this to foreign companies or even internal companies that are just there for profit and not interested in the land.”