The Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council is calling on the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and Senator Pippa Hackett, Minister of State who represents Laois and Offaly, to introduce a single consent forestry licence to solve the “crisis in the industry”.
Cllr Conor Bergin's motion to the September meeting of Laois County Council was widely supported by colleagues.
He said three separate licences are required to plant, thin and fell forests, with a backlog now of years to wait, but other EU countries require only one licence.
“I attended a meeting as Cathaoirleach with Laois Farm Forestry Group. This is 650 farmers the same number as dairy farmers, with 7,200 hectares of forestry, employing 430 people and a major sawmills. We need emergency legislation.
“This is our Google, our Facebook, if 400 jobs were at risk in Dublin the government would be on its knees trying to fix it,” he said.
"It's like as if you were building a house and you had to get different permission for blocks and then the windows. I am now calling on Senator Hackett to do her job, we need action now," Cllr Bergin added.
A big Laois sawmills has to import timber, claimed Cllr Padraig Fleming.
Cllr PJ Kelly worked in the timber industry for 20 years he said.
“Hundreds of thousands of saplings had to be binned this year because licences weren't granted. A shocking waste. Farmers spent hundreds of thousands on machinery to extract timber. It's a shocking shame we have to import it and leave our machinery idle here.”
Cllr James Kelly said there is “a glut of timber” waiting to be felled.
“The red tape is going to cost jobs,” he warned.
Cllr Ben Brennan agrees.
"It's absolutely crazy. They were begging people to grow hard and soft wood. If you can't get a licence to thin it, the timber won't develop. Timber prices are up by 33%. You can't expect contractors to survive. The Government need to get up off their rear end and sort this straight away. People will be broke. They are bankrupt already," he said.
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