Minister of state Tom Hayes has announced details of the proposed new forestry programme covering the period 2014 to 2020.
The programme has been released for public consultation, alongside an environmental report on this new plan for forestry.
Following the public consultation process the programme will be submitted to the European Commission for their approval.
The public consultation exercise follows on from an earlier consultation process involving, inter alia, several bilateral meetings with stakeholders and representative groups.
Arising from these discussions is an ambitious suite of 11 measures with increased grant and premiums rates for new afforestation projects. These measures aim to increase forest cover and generate additional supplies of timber and wood biomass to meet the projected increase in demand from the wood processing and renewable energy sectors.
Launching the latest round of consultation, Mr Hayes said he was “encouraged by the level of engagement by stakeholders so far and was happy to announce that the number of premium payments being proposed is now 15 instead of 12 as set out in the earlier consultation document issued in March 2014”.
The minister of state added that “this was a significant improvement on what was originally proposed and is particularly noteworthy given that the premium rate has also increased by 10% for the most popular grant category”. He also signalled a proposed small increase in some grant rates.
The plan has been designed to encourage more land owners to invest in forestry with the introduction of two premium payment scales where applications greater than 8 hectares will receive a higher premium and the inclusion of a single rate of premium for farmers and non-farmers to incentivise non-farmers to plant trees.
Changes are also being proposed to the forest road scheme in terms of area.
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