AIE: unexpired and unexercised forestry licences

AIE request 22/407

I refer to your request on for a review of the decision made by this Department on 15th August 2022 not partially release the records to which you requested access under the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2018 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011, S.I. No. 615 of 2014 and S.I. 309 of 2018) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations).

A list of all unexpired and unexercised forestry licences (whole or part) (all schemes);
a) within the six SPA’s designated for the protection of the Hen Harrier
b) which contain mitigation to protect Hen Harrier during the breeding period

I was assigned to review your request. I made a decision on your review request on 12th September 2022. My decision on review is an entirely new and separate decision on your request and is explained below.
I must inform you that I have not found any grounds to reverse the decision made by the initial decision-maker and accordingly I affirm her decision to refuse access to the records requested under Article 9(2)(a).

The Department does not collate information on unexercised forestry licences. In order for the Department to collate this information, the Department’s forestry inspectorate would need to visit every site for which an application has been made within those areas and provide a report on each site in question. This information would then have to be collated and cross-checked to create the list of sites which you refer to in your request.

Your request therefore would, in my opinion, place an unreasonable demand on the Department’s resources and would disrupt the Department’s ability to perform its core licencing functions.

In arriving at a decision on your request, I confirm that I have had regard to the provisions of Article 10 of the Regulations.

In line with Article 10(3), my deliberations have included weighing the public interest served by disclosure against the interest served by refusal.

The factors in favour of release of this information are to contribute to the already open nature of the forestry licencing process.

The factors in favour of withholding this information are those set out above.

There is no public interest in diverting the Division’s resources to compile the list that is being requested here. All the licences in question have undergone the full licencing process and were legal approved.

I have decided therefore that, on balance, the public interest in this case is best served by withholding this information.

Under Article 12 of the AIE Regulations you may appeal this decision, by writing to the Commissioner for Environmental Information at the address given below:

Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information
6 Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
D02 W773
Phone: +353-1-639 5689
It is also possible to appeal on the website of the Commissioner

Assistant Principal Officer
Felling Section

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