Coillte Appropriate Avoidance Measures (22-8)

AIE Request 20220254

“As part of each site visit, existing features are reviewed and updated, and new features added as required. These assessments cover water and soils, biodiversity, landscape, archaeology and cultural heritage, people and material assets. If nesting birds are detected during a site visit at any stage of the planning and operational process, appropriate avoidance measures are put in place to safeguard the nesting birds.”


The information requested is:

  1. Information on all instances where nesting birds have been detected during a site visit at any stage of the planning and operational process in Coillte properties in Co. Leitrim in 2022.
  2. Information on all appropriate avoidance measures that have been put in place by Coillte to safeguard nesting birds during the 2022 period of breeding and rearing in its properties in County Leitrim.

Summary of Decision
We have considered your request and made a decision on 28.09.2022. Following receipt of your request, I examined material held by Coillte and having taken all reasonable steps to locate the requested information and establish whether the information you have requested exists, I have been unable to locate any records relevant to your request. I therefore refuse your request under Article 7(5) of the AIE Regulations. Please note the following –

  1. Information on all instances where nesting birds have been detected during a site visit at any stage of the planning and operational process in Coillte properties in Co. Leitrim in 2022.

There were no instances where nesting birds were detected during a site visit at any stage of the planning and operational process in Coillte properties in Co. Leitrim in 2022.

  1. Information on all appropriate avoidance measures that have been put in place by Coillte to safeguard nesting birds during the 2022 period of breeding and rearing in its properties in County Leitrim.
    As no instances of nesting birds were detected as set out at Point 1 above, avoidance measures to safeguard any detected nesting birds were not required.

Information Meeting: Ecologists & Forestry Projects (AIE response on training for ecologists working for DAFM Forest Service)


Dr. Orla Fahy

Mr. Kevin Collins

8th February 2021

Agenda
Introduction
Overview of DAFM’s assessment of forestry applications
Relevant Circulars
Pre-screening survey / report
NIS template
Other ecological issues
Experiences to date
Final points

Overview of DAFM’s assessment of forestry applications

ecologyqueries@agriculture.gov.ie


Link to Circulars:
https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/c04fb-forestry-grants-and-premium-schemes-2014-2020-circulars/

Related Questions

What is the current advice on planting within aquatic set-backs?

Can you comment on situations where timing mitigations that should apply to the same site can conflict each other? e.g. requirement to fell in summer to minimise impacts on aquatic H&S vs requirement to fell in winter to avoid impacts on breeding birds ?

How do you determine if heath habitat is good enough to be Annex I? [Criteria for Annex Heath habitats can be found under the document Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 79 from NPWS- Guidelines for a national survey and conservation assessment of upland vegetation and habitats in Ireland] [Annex 1 habitat also visible on https://airomaps.geohive.ie/ESM/ ]

NIS for NWS… Can you do one NIS for both the felling and the other operations or are you talking about two NISs ?

It would be useful to consider how undesignated sites of high biodiversity value are captured. I’ve seen several fen sites in Westmeath that have been afforested within the past 5 yr. How are FS inspectors and foresters in general being equipped to identify and avoid planting these sites?

Can you re-submit a FS AA screening report that was carried out for a TFL application in support of a new forest road application on the same property?

Large areas of wetland/peatland habitat in Co. Wicklow which has been identified as recognised wetland sites in the county are continuing to be planted with SS

Are there plans for FS Ecologists to do the AA Screening rather than having it done by FS Inspectors?

AIE Request: Woodland and hedgerow destruction, Tonashammer, Westmeath

AIE.22.284

Irish Transverse Mercartor Projection are 649994, 776015

Illegal felling enforcement case, land seeded for dairy farming

“There is enough evidence observed to warrant that the file is forwarded to the EIA section for their assessment. The location is tonashammer, it is north of castlepollard and west of dromone. Over 500 metres of hedgerow has been removed (not trimmed) and nothing is remaining only bare soil. The total area of the works is ca 6.5 ha and there are wetlands present. Part of the area overlaps or is adjacent to a pNHA”

Inspectors Report

Cease and Desist Letter

Report from site visit conducted following a cross report of a possible breach of Environmental Impact Regulations (Agriculture) in relation to work being carried out on lands at Tonashammer, Co. Westmeath

Replanting Order

Natura Impact Statement (Appropriate Assessment) and Environmental Report (Strategic Environmental Assessment) for the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan

RFT 222945 – SPU CO35-2022

https://irl.eu-supply.com/app/rfq/rwlproposal_s.asp?PID=223511

Hen Harrier Habitat Map

https://dahg.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=a964809ffbad4c16ae2c4ec72f5d3921

The hen harrier (Circus cyaneus) is a territorial ground-nesting bird of prey that typically breeds in open upland bog and heather moorland, and their associated habitats.

The most recent (2015) National Hen Harrier Survey estimated the breeding population to be between 108 and 157 pairs in the Republic of Ireland. Outside the breeding season, it ranges more widely across both upland and lowland areas.

Along with a number of other species and habitats, the hen harrier is under threat in Ireland due to a number of factors, but primarily due to the loss of suitable habitat through afforestation/forest maturation, agricultural reclamation and intensification, and wind energy development.

Some of these land-use changes may also cause unsustainable rates of nest loss, due to increased levels of associated predation. In addition, there is a very low survival rate for juvenile birds through their first winter. As a result, the national population is in decline.

Following the designation of the six breeding hen harrier SPAs in 2007, an agreement (the “Hen Harrier Protocol”) was reached between the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), the NPWS of the then Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (DAHG), landowner representatives and forest industry interests, on the management of afforestation within the SPAs.

However, the European Commission considered the protocol to be a “plan”, and as such, it could not lawfully be applied in the absence of a strategic environmental assessment. On foot of that and other concerns, the Protocol was suspended.

It was then agreed that a Threat Response Plan would be prepared that would address issues that had been identified as affecting land use in the hen harrier SPAs, as well as affecting the conservation status of the species.

The draft Plan is being made available for public comment, as required by Regulation 21, and will be published upon its adoption.

The draft Plan will also undergo a screening for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Appropriate Assessment (AA), and any further assessments that are indicated as necessary.

The SEA will be commissioned and undertaken by NPWS-DHLGH; NPWS will also commission the Natura Impact Statement for Appropriate Assessment, while the AA determination itself will be made by the Ecological Assessment Unit, pursuant to Regulation 42a of the Regulations.

The final Plan will be adopted by Government.

Detailed site-specific conservation objectives are being set and published for each SPA selected for breeding hen harrier, based on the established NPWS-DHLGH process that aims to define favourable conservation condition at a specific Natura or European site, for a particular habitat or species.

Using the parameters that define favourable conservation status of species, specific attributes for the species and its supporting habitat are set, along with targets that define the favourable reference value for that attribute.

Following the conclusion of relevant research outputs from the Hen Harrier Programme and the mid-term review of the Plan implementation, the SSCOs will be reviewed with a view to their update, if necessary.

The Department also intends to publish conservation objectives for the two wintering hen harrier SPAs in 2023 (Wexford Harbour and Slobs SPA and Lough Corrib SPA), following the conclusion of ongoing relevant research in 2022.

An SPA-network-level conservation objective will also be established, informed by the site-level objectives, so that the breeding SPA network will operate as a coherent whole, and effects that may arise on one SPA can be considered in the context of the whole network.


Due to the proportion of the hen harrier population that occurs outside the SPA network, it is also the Department’s intention to publish a national conservation objective for the species, and to explore the establishment of an all-Ireland objective with Northern Ireland, following the conclusion of the 2022 National Hen Harrier Survey.

Main Threats and Pressures Affecting Hen Harrier

The primary potential threats and pressures to breeding hen harrier, as identified through the consultation process for this Plan, concern forestry, agriculture and wind energy development.

As previously mentioned, detailed reports on each of these sectors and their interactions with hen harrier have been produced to support the Plan’s development. The issues arising are summarised below.


Other potential threats to hen harrier include disturbance from recreational activities, persecution, wildfires and turf cutting, predation and climate change, all of which can affect other species and habitats.

A further forestry-related threat is the increased risk of predation, and nest predation in particular.

The Department will keep the relative importance of these pressures and threats under review as part of the Threat Response Plan implementation process, as well as through the Strategic Environmental Assessment.

Forestry

The breeding hen harrier SPAs include commercial coniferous forest plantations (more than 50% by area).

These were included in the SPAs during the designation process, as surveys at that time showed that a large proportion of the national hen harrier population was using parts of the plantations for nesting and foraging. Notwithstanding that, the natural habitat of the hen harrier is open bog and heather moorland, with rough grassland also favoured.

Hen harriers find young forest plantations attractive to breed in, and the population is thought to have increased in Ireland in the 1960s and ’70s due to new afforestation. However, breeding success is compromised by the loss of open space as forest canopies close. By 10 years or so after planting, a forest is of little habitat value for hen harrier until clear-felling takes place.

In a balanced, mixed-age forest landscape, approximately one-quarter of the forest estate is in pre-thicket stage at any one time. Currently, however, forests within the hen harrier SPAs lack this mixed-age balance.

Agriculture

Lightly grazed heath/bog, with some scrub, is the most suitable habitat for nesting hen harrier. Lowland tillage, in combination with open heath/bog and rough grasslands, is important for both foraging and roosting outside the breeding season, which constitutes a significant portion of the year.

The quality of rough grassland, or indeed improved grassland, for hen harrier can be influenced by a range of agricultural practices, including grazing intensity, grazing periods, grazing types, fertiliser/slurry usage, rush control etc.

Hedgerows are also important, providing foraging networks throughout the year.

Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation due to agricultural intensification have already significantly reduced the availability and quality of open heath/bog and open grazed wet grassland habitats in areas important for breeding hen harrier. There are also significant concerns about the low survival rate of young hen harriers, particularly over winter. Appropriate grazing of these open habitats is an effective means to deliver suitable farmland habitats for hen harrier.

Areas of abandoned land with scrub, though not considered extensive at a landscape-scale, can be utilised by nesting and/or roosting hen harriers in particular. It is also important to retain natural and semi-natural habitats in the landscape, as well as to ensure that the quality of appropriately-grazed habitats is not negatively affected by other pressures.


While heather, rush and scrub are among the most important habitats for hen harrier, the eligibility of such land for entry to the Basic Payment Scheme (and subsequently ANC and GLAS) has been problematic, and there have been many instances where area or payment reductions were applied due to their presence.

In parallel, many landowners have cleared or burned extensive areas of such habitats to maximise eligibility for payments. Such habitats may even be seen as a hindrance to the earning potential of land under schemes such as BPS, ANC and GLAS. There are ongoing challenges around the communication and implementation of land eligibility.

Wind energy developments

There is considerable overlap between the breeding range of hen harriers and the upland areas in which wind energy development has been concentrated in Ireland.

Over two hundred and fifty wind turbines occur within the hen harrier SPA network.

There is now some evidence that hen harrier breeding productivity may be impacted by wind turbine development close to nesting areas.

This is particularly relevant as the Habitats Directive requires that planning decisions must ensure that there are no adverse effects on the integrity of European, or Natura, sites, for a project or plan to be consented to under Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive.

Summary assessment of pressures and threats

Existing Measures to Address Hen Harrier Conservation Requirements

Restrictions arising from the designation of SPAs

Restrictions or additional duties that arise on lands designated as SPAs fall into two main categories:
a. Requirements of planning and licensing authorities (including the Forest Service)
b. Activities requiring consent (ARCs)

Under the EU Nature Directives, and as interpreted through the Irish Courts and the European Court of Justice, consenting authorities can only consent to activities in an SPA if they are clear that there will not be an adverse impact on the species for which the SPA has been designated.

ARCs

These are activities that might be damaging to a Natura 2000 site but that do not require planning permission or another form of consent. In such cases, prior consent is needed from the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Obligations as set out above in relation to screening for appropriate assessment, and appropriate assessment as necessary, also apply to ARCs.

The rules of the Basic Payment Scheme also require that farmers must not undertake these activities without prior consent from the Minister.


There are currently three ARCs relevant to hen harrier SPAs:
– Agricultural improvement of heath or bog.
– Construction, removal or alteration of fences, stone walls, hedgerows, banks or any field boundary other than temporary electric fencing (consent is not required for normal maintenance).
– Off-road recreational use of mechanically propelled vehicles.

Agri-environment Schemes Relevant to Hen Harrier Areas

NPWS Farm Plan Scheme (2006-2015)

The NPWS Farm Plan Scheme was launched in 2006. The main purpose of the scheme was to promote a focused, targeted and innovative approach to farming for the conservation of habitats and species of conservation concern, where they were not adequately covered by other national agri-environment schemes.

In total, 377 NPWS farm plans, based on a five-year contract, were put in place with farmers in hen harrier SPAs. Following the financial crisis of 2008, and subsequent budgetary cutbacks, the NPWS farm plan scheme was closed to new applicants in April 2010 and most plans reached their end-of-life by 2015. Over €14 million was paid to the participating farmers, with an average payment of €7,347 per annum.

This scheme was funded solely from the national exchequer, i.e. no EU funding was allocated. The NPWS farm plan scheme was never resourced to the extent that it could provide suitable habitat at a landscape scale for hen harrier, with less than 10% of the farmers in the SPAs participating.

GLAS (2014-2023)

The Green Low Carbon Agri Environment Scheme is the current agri-environment scheme, which is part of the RDP 2014-2020 (extended to 2023). The GLAS standard ‘package’ is up to €5,000 for eligible farmers per annum, with an additional package of €2,000 per annum for those in GLAS+, in return for exceptional environmental commitment.

Farmers in hen harrier areas (SPAs and other relevant areas identified in the national 2015 survey) are eligible for GLAS and GLAS+. DAFM has estimated that more than €23m per annum is available for hen harrier actions alone in GLAS and GLAS+. As of August 2022, there were 2,476 farmers taking up hen harrier actions in GLAS, with 1,350 of these also in GLAS+.

Hen Harrier Programme EIP (2018-2022)

The Hen Harrier Programme is a €25m European Innovation Partnership (EIP) that has operated between 2018 and 2022. The Hen Harrier Programme has been pivotal in piloting measures for the hen harrier and associated conservation interests, including habitats, wider biodiversity, water and carbon, as well as delivering community buy-in.

The primary objectives of the Hen Harrier Programme were:
1: To ensure the sustainable management of High Nature Value farmland in the most important breeding areas for hen harrier in Ireland.
2: To promote a stronger socio-economic outlook for marginally agriculturally productive upland areas that are generally difficult to manage.
3: To develop an effective model for future sustainable management of hen harrier areas.
4: To foster continued positive relations through locally-led solutions between the people who have managed these landscapes for generations and the relevant Government Departments. This relationship is central to maintaining and enhancing the biodiversity that exists on these lands.

It has targeted approximately 24% of the land area of the hen harrier SPAs and pays farmers to undertake actions to reach the Programme’s goals, the success of which is measured in the field. It has been delivered on the ground by a specialist locally-based intermediary team (between DAFM and the landowners), which was appointed through competitive tender (hereafter ‘the Hen Harrier Programme Team’). The Programme is overseen by a Steering Group, comprised of representatives from DAFM, NPWS, Teagasc, participating farmers and Hen Harrier Programme Advisors.

The Hen Harrier Programme is operated on the basis that payments are for the habitat and support actions delivered during each breeding season. All payments under the Programme are made “in arrears” and are based on the habitat quality and actions delivered by the farmer by August 15th each year, i.e. the latest date for submitting a claim for payment to the Hen Harrier Programme Team.

The delivery of the Hen Harrier Programme is supported at farm level by three types of payments:
• A Results-based Habitat Payment
• A Supporting Actions Payment
• A Hen Harrier Payment


The Hen Harrier Programme has acted in parallel to GLAS. Participation in the Programme was not linked to GLAS participation, and all payments through the Hen Harrier Programme were separate from GLAS. It forms part of a package of supports available to farmers in hen harrier SPAs that also includes the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) and GLAS schemes.

The CAP 2023-27 will incorporate hen harrier SPAs (and some other important hen harrier breeding sites) into a new Cooperation Project approach, where it is intended that multiple biodiversity interests will be addressed at a landscape scale.

RAPTOR LIFE project

IRD Duhallow, a community-based Rural Development Company, secured €3 million LIFE+ funding for Raptor LIFE 2015 to 2019, after an 85% decline was recorded in the local hen harrier population.

It sought to connect and restore habitats for priority species, including the hen harrier, within the River Blackwater (Cork/Waterford) SAC and the Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Nagle Special Protection Area (SPA). The latter is the most important SPA site for hen harrier. From 2016-2019, its monitoring showed that this sub-population has had poor productivity (overall fledging rate of less than 1.2 young fledged per breeding attempt).

The RaptorLIFE project drafted a Management Plan for the Stacks to Mullaghareirk Mountains, West Limerick Hills and Mount Eagle SPA.

Hen harrier-specific actions within the plan include:

  • management of forests in the SPA with a target of 23 pairs or more for the SPA by 2025, along with a stable/increasing population trend.
  • a reduction in nest losses to predators,
  • no nest failures to disturbance or fire,
  • no losses of adults or nests to persecution, along with
  • maintaining or increasing the area/quality of HNV farmland, hedgerows, retaining important nesting areas in scrub, and restoring degraded heath/bog habitats.

Joint Oireachtas Committee Hearing

In 2015, the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine published its report on the “Designation of Lands as SPAs for the Conservation of Breeding Hen Harriers”. The Committee met with representatives of “Irish Farmers with Designated Lands”. The JOC‘s report contains 18 recommendations, reproduced in Appendix 6; these have been used to inform the Threat Response Plan, and many of them have been incorporated into actions in this draft Plan.

Land value and compensation

Regulation 41 of the Regulations provides for compensation where the Minister refuses consent to an activity that had been carried out within the previous five years. The Regulations do not give the Minister powers to make payments for reduced land value per se, nor for the loss of collateral value.

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine (see above and Appendix 6) recommended that payments should apply only to the curtailment of current or past activities and current or past income foregone.

Furthermore, payments should not apply to potential or future income; and payment should not be made for failure to secure either planning permission or a rant for new development.

Summary report of the results of the Public Consultation Prepared by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine: in the context of the communication on developing a shared vision for the role of trees and forests and a national Forest Strategy for Ireland

The Shared Vision for Forests was crafted by Project Woodland and finalised following extensive stakeholder engagement and public consultation throughout 2021/2022.

A summary of the methodology used, the results of the consultations, and the influence of the consultation and engagement on the National Shared Vision is available here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/forestry-policy-and-strategy/#shared-national-vision-for-trees-and-forests

DAFM Forest Service post-licence inspection reports on Coillte felling licences (2022)

AIE 22/520

All post licence inspection reports produced by the Forest Service of DAFM as a result of inspections carried out of the operations of Coillte felling licences in 2022.


The information to include any relevant correspondence and subsequent environmental information as a result of follow ups on the inspections, including surveys, analysis, etc.

119 files released under AIE

Download files (zipped) here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1M2aATIH6-kN1kNmPa9m10wmNBvRc79cF/view?usp=sharing

Felling Licence Applications – initial insights into the consultation process with Inland Fisheries Ireland

AIE-022-018-IFI

As part of an AIE request, we are seeking to understand the process whereby DAFM Forest Service refer forestry applications to Inland Fisheries Ireland for feedback

Overview

This table outlines the number of forestry applications (nationally) assessed by IFI Environmental Officer for the period January – July 2022:

DAFM FS refer a significant volume of licence applications to IFI, so we took a look initially at just the referrals for the East River Basin District (ERBD), and then focused in on Wicklow, and on just the clearfell referrals.

Note email below to Eastern River Basin District (ERBD) on July 15th 2022 from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in relation to felling licence applications.

From the licence application list provided the IFI local Environmental Office initially screened out applications in the Wicklow area and then further refined the felling applications to be commented on, based primarily on their proximity to a watercourse and the sensitivity of the watercourse and provided a response in respect of these applications.

There was a total of 79 applications in this tranche for the Wicklow area with a total of 45 responses submitted by IFI from the time of receipt on 15/07/2022 to 04/08/2022.

The responses are generic in their content however there is also individual elements specific to each river or clearfell application contained within each response.

IFI confirmed that the resources to do a deep dive into each application is not available and would probably involve site visits.

FL App RefHarvest Block AreaCountyTownlands
DU02-FL01466.97DublinBallinascorney Upper  
DU02-FL01477.7DublinBallinascorney Upper  
DU02-FL01485.37DublinKillakee, Mountpelier  
DU02-FL01494.05DublinKilmashogue  
DU02-FL01505.91DublinCruagh  
DU02-FL01514.01DublinMountpelier  
DU02-FL01529.02DublinCruagh, Tibradden  
DU02-FL015331.77DublinRathmichael, Shankill  
DU02-FL01552.92DublinCruagh  
DU02-FL01560.41DublinTibradden  
DU02-FL01572.96DublinKillakee  
WW01-FL012220.96WicklowBallynultagh  
WW01-FL01239.19WicklowBallynultagh  
WW01-FL01247.96WicklowBallynasculloge Lower, Ballynatona, Ballysmuttan Upper  
WW01-FL012518.14WicklowBallyfoyle  
WW02-FL01057.37WicklowBallybrew  
WW02-FL010621.37WicklowCloon  
WW02-FL010711.66WicklowAnnacrivey, Ballybrew, Kilmalin  
WW02-FL01081.99WicklowDeerpark  
WW02-FL010911.59WicklowCloon, Tonygarrow  
WW02-FL01106.61WicklowCrone  
WW02-FL01113.67WicklowAnnacrivey, Curtlestown Upper  
WW02-FL011211.13WicklowDeerpark  
WW02-FL01131.65WicklowAnnacrivey  
WW02-FL01142.11WicklowBallyreagh, Crone  
WW02-FL011511.11WicklowBallyreagh, Ballyross  
WW03-FL008413.83WicklowDownshill  
WW03-FL00854.26WicklowGlasnamullen  
WW03-FL00863.18WicklowKilmurry, Merepark  
WW03-FL00876.33WicklowBallinahinch Middle, Ballinahinch Upper  
WW03-FL00888.68WicklowBallinahinch Upper, Callowhill Lower, Callowhill Upper, Kilday  
WW03-FL009081.39WicklowCarrignamuck Lower, Dunran Demesne, Dunranhill, Keeloge Lower, Kiltimon, Mountjohn, Prospect Upper  
WW04-FL01198.45WicklowTrooperstown  
WW04-FL01204.8WicklowDrummin  
WW04-FL01217.17WicklowBallard, Ballard Park  
WW04-FL01225.8WicklowDerrybawn  
WW04-FL01233.37WicklowLugduff  
WW04-FL012416.03WicklowBrockagh  
WW05-FL013110.01WicklowBrockagh  
WW05-FL01324.26WicklowCorragh  
WW05-FL013322.28WicklowBallinagee, Glenbride  
WW06-FL03007.01WicklowBlackrock, Slieveboy Upper  
WW07-FL020812.43WicklowAghavannagh (Revell)  
WW07-FL02093.12WicklowBaravore  
WW07-FL021010.38WicklowDrumgoff  
WW07-FL021111.01WicklowAghavannagh (Revell)  
WW07-FL021225.01WicklowBallyboy  
WW07-FL021310.68WicklowClohernagh  
WW07-FL02144WicklowDrumgoff  
WW07-FL021519.33WicklowCarriglinneen, Kirikee  
WW07-FL02165.9WicklowCullentragh Little  
WW07-FL02174.1WicklowBallyboy  
WW07-FL02184.59WicklowClohernagh  
WW07-FL02198.2WicklowClonkeen,Corrasillagh  
WW07-FL02202.03WicklowCarriglinneen  
WW07-FL022210.17WicklowAghavannagh (Revell)  
WW07-FL02232.81WicklowAghavanagh (Ram), Aghavannagh (Revell)  
WW07-FL022413.09WicklowAghavanagh (Ram), Aghavannagh (Revell)  
WW07-FL02253.18WicklowAghavanagh (Ram)  
WW07-FL022618.95WicklowAghavanagh (Ram), Aghavannagh (Revell), Drumgoff  
WW07-FL02274.35WicklowAghavannagh (Revell)  
WW08-FL02074.87WicklowBallymacsimon  
WW08-FL02085.05WicklowBallinacooley, Kilnamanagh More  
WW08-FL02093.9WicklowBallycullen  
WW08-FL02102.59WicklowBarnbawn, Garryduff  
WW09-FL01884.22WicklowBallintombay Upper, Ballydowling Hill  
WW09-FL01894.46WicklowBallinvally Lower  
WW09-FL01904.69WicklowBallinvally Lower, Ballykillageer Lower  
WW09-FL01916.72WicklowBallyshane  
WW09-FL01925.09WicklowBallintombay Upper  
WW09-FL01932.1WicklowBallyteige  
WW09-FL01945.31WicklowBallinvally (Valentine), Ballydonnell  
WW09-FL01953.18WicklowBallinacarrig Lower  
WW09-FL01964.64WicklowKilmacrea Upper  
WW09-FL019732.51WicklowBollahoney, Mongan  
WW09-FL01982.68WicklowKilmacrea Lower  
WW10-FL024313.4WicklowKilballyowen, Roddenagh  
WW10-FL02457.27WicklowBallygobban  
WW10-FL024611.86WicklowBarnameelia, Farbreaga  
WW10-FL024720.64WicklowBallinagappoge, Rosahane  
WW10-FL02488.53WicklowCoolgarrow  
WW10-FL02497.67WicklowBallyteige  
WW10-FL02508.79WicklowBallinagappoge, Mucklagh  
WW10-FL02510.83WicklowBallinagappoge  
WW10-FL02526.93WicklowBallygobban  
WW11-FL01102.46WicklowBallinasilloge, Knocknagilky Upper, Knocknaskeagh  
WW12-FL00110.66WicklowBallytrasna, Kingston  
WW12-FL0012118.59WicklowAvondale, Balleese Wood, Ballinacarrig Upper, Ballytrasna, Corballis Lower, Kingston, Rockstown Lower, Ticlash, Timullin  
WX01-FL01402.18WexfordBallythomas  
WX01-FL014120.31Wexford, WicklowBallythomashill, Carrig, Curraghlawn  
WX01-FL014211.99WexfordCarrig, Croghan Mountain

Standard referral letter from DAFM FS to IFI

Note: DAFM FS allow a 4 week timeframe for response, but often batch large volumes for consultation on the same day. This is likely to overwhelm the available resources of the consultation body, in this case the IFI. Consultation bodies can apply for an extension.

Dear Sir/Madam,

With regard to applications for felling licences, pursuant to Section 17(5)(a) of the Forestry Act 2014, the Minister may consult any person whom he or she considers to be appropriate. To this end, the Minister issues felling licence referrals to a number of statutory authorities and other bodies of which Inland Fisheries Ireland is one. Inland Fisheries Ireland is now invited to submit comments and observations in respect of the felling licences referenced in the above table. The timeframe in which a response is expected is four weeks. Please note, if no response is received within this timeframe, “No Comment” will be noted in respect of the files listed above. Should you require an extension please notify the Dept as soon as possible.

While the Minister will have regard to any written submissions or observations received in respect of any such felling licence application so referred, he or she must be mindful that where he or she decides to grant a licence, in whole or part, with or without conditions, in attaching any such conditions to the licence, those conditions must be within the powers conferred upon him or her by statute, and will be guided in doing so by the following criteria for the imposition of conditions, namely that they are necessary, relevant to the project or activity for which a licence has been sought, enforceable, precise, and reasonable.

The Minister will also have due regard to other statutory obligations placed upon him or her, as well as taking account of the relevant policies or objectives of the Government as regards the development and promotion of forestry in a manner that maximises the economic, environmental and social value of forests within the principles of sustainable forest management.

Applications referred to you are available to view in the Forestry Licence Viewer.  The FLV may be found here https://forestry-maps.apps.rhos.agriculture.gov.ie/ .  The user will be able to see the site boundaries and can see other applications for forestry licences in the area (applications from 1st January, 2018).  Looking at a specific application by keying in the reference number in the search box, the user can view the application documents, including maps.

Please quote the above Felling Licence reference numbers in all correspondence, and return any response to Felling.forestservice@agriculture.gov.ie

Kind regards,

Clerical Officer, Felling Section,  Forest Service

__

An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Eastát Chaisleán Bhaile Sheáin, Co. Loch Garman, Y35 PN52

Johnstown Castle Estate, Wexford, Y35 PN52

Records released (Schedule)

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the upper catchment of the Ballydonnell Brook_010 which has a current WFD status of Moderate and which must be improved to a minimum of good status.

The Ballydonnell Brook is a tributary of the River Liffey which flows into Poulaphouca Reservoir, the main drinking water supply source for the greater Dublin area.

The clear-felling is in an area of peaty soils, raises concerns about peat deposits entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the River Liffey_30 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

The River Liffey at this point flows into Poulaphouca Reservoir, the main drinking water supply source for the greater Dublin area.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the River Liffey_30 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

The River Liffey at this point flows into Poulaphouca Reservoir, the main drinking water supply source for the greater Dublin area.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Glencree River_010 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Glencree river is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and Brown trout.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Glencree River_010 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Glencree river is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and Brown trout.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the river Dargle_020 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Dargle river is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and Brown trout and is a designated in accordance with Salmonid River Regs (S.I. 293) affording the river extra protection in law.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Glencree River_010 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Glencree river is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and Brown trout.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Glencree River_010 which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Glencree river is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, Sea trout and Brown trout.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the river Vartry_010 catchment, and which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

This Vartry river at this point is an important nursery system supporting populations of Brown trout. It is also part of the water supply to the Vartry water treatment works.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Newtownmountkennedy river_020 which has a current WFD status of Poor and which must be improved to Good Status by 2027.

The Newtownmountkennedy river is under severe pressure from various sources and must not be subjected to any further activities that will exacerbate the status of the river.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of Ballymacahara and the Inchanappa streams, both of which has a current WFD status of Good and which must be maintained.

Both streams are of important nursery habitat, supporting populations of Brown trout.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Avonmore_040 which has a current WFD status of High and which must be maintained.

The Avonmore River is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, and Brown trout.

The area of felling is directly adjacent to the Wicklow Mountains SAC which must be protected.

It represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

The proposed clear felling refers to lands in the catchment of the Avonmore_050 which has a current WFD status of Good, and which must be maintained.

The Avonmore River is an important salmonid system supporting populations of Atlantic salmon, and Brown trout.

The river represents a valuable resource both in terms of local natural heritage (biological diversity value) and particularly from a native fisheries perspective.

The clear-felling raises concerns about suspended solids and nutrients entering watercourses resulting from forestry harvesting activities, posing a significant environmental threat to water quality.

Poor water quality will impact upon fish, benthic invertebrates, and aquatic flora and these are the primary biological elements used in the classification of waters in the context of the WFD.

AIE Request: WW12-FL0012 Sample Coillte Application for a Tree Felling Licence (111.49Ha) on Avonmore River

Location: Avondale,Balleese Wood,Ballinacarrig Upper,Ballytrasna,Corballis Lower,Kingston,Rockstown Lower,Ticlash,Timullin, Wicklow

Our Ref:             AIE request 20220236

Your Ref:         AIE Request: WW12-FL0012

I refer to the request you made, received on 18th July 2022, 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. 615 of 2014 and S.I. No. 309 of 2018) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations) for access to information held by Coillte relating to Information relating to felling licence application WW12-FL0012 to include inter alia;

  1. Date of Inspection by Environmental Officer prior to application submission
  2. Environmental Officers Comments on Water, Soil & Biodiversity
  3. Notifications / Consultations with local stakeholders
  4. An estimate of the expected residues and emissions (including carbon loss from soils)
  5. A description of the significant effects of the proposed activity on the environment;
  6. A description of the measures envisaged to prevent and/or reduce the effects
  7. An outline of the main alternatives to clearfell studied by the applicant
  8. Correspondence related to Coillte licences and the Waters of Life Project on the Avonmore

Summary of Decision

I made a decision on your request on 19/08/2022. Details of my decision on each point of information sought are as follows;

  1. Date of Inspection by Environmental Officer prior to application submission

We are granting access to this information.  Field inspection was carried out on 04.08.2021.

  • Environmental Officers Comments on Water, Soil & Biodiversity

As per Article 9(2)(c) access to this information is refused.  Article 9(2)(c) of the Regulations provides that a public authority may refuse to make environmental information available where the request concerns material in the course of completion or unfinished documents or data. The Aarhus Guide makes it clear that the words ‘in the course of completion’ suggest that the term refers to individual documents that are actively being worked on by the public authority. ‘In the course of completion’ suggests that the document will have more work done on it within some reasonable timeframe.  Furthermore, the Minister’s guidance explains; “Public authorities are not obliged to make available material that is incomplete or in preliminary or other draft form”. The above is further exemplified by decisions of the Commissioner in Mr X and Wicklow County Council and Association Y and Cork City Council.

To explain, Coillte’s site assessment comments are recorded on the data collector app with associated mapped features and uploaded to Coillte’s information system.  Each felling licence footprint is spatially reviewed on an individual basis by ecologists where comments from the field help to influence the compilation of the NIS (Natura Impact Statements). The NIS for this felling licence application is currently being compiled and will be available for public viewing when published by DAFM.  As per Article 9(2)(c) access to this information is refused on the same basis as point three.  This information is currently being compiled and will be publicly available once the completed NIS is published by DAFM via the felling licence viewer.

  • Notifications / consultations with local stakeholders

This information is not currently available, thus, as per Article 9(5) of the Regulations it is our duty to inform you of this.  DAFM send details of the felling licence application to the statutory bodies including NPWS, County Councils, Fisheries, etc. and those consultations will be available to view on the DAFM felling license viewer in due course. Coillte consults with stakeholders on our felling plans via the public map-viewer.  Further local consultation will take place where required prior to commencement of operations.

  • An estimate of the expected residues and emissions (including carbon loss from soils).

This information is not available, thus as per Article 9(5) of the Regulations it is our duty to inform you of this. In terms of emissions (including carbon loss from soils), emissions for individual harvesting sites are not estimated.

  1. A description of the significant effects of the proposed activity on the environment.

As per Article 9(2)(c) access to this information is refused on the same basis as point three. To explain, potential effects of the proposed activity will be assessed in the NIS which is currently being compiled and will be available to view on the Forestry Licence Viewer in due course.

  • A description of the measures envisaged to prevent and/or reduce the effects

As per Article 9(2)(c) access to this information is refused on the same basis as point three.  To explain, any potential mitigations will be recorded in the NIS which is currently being compiled and will be available to view on Forestry Licence Viewer in due course.

  • An outline of the main alternatives to clearfell studied by the applicant

This information is not available, thus as per Article 9(5) of the Regulations it is our duty to inform you of this.

  • Correspondence related to Coillte licences and the Waters of Life Project on the Avonmore

This information does not currently exist.

Public Interest Test (Article 10(3))

Furthermore, in accordance with Article 10(3) and 10(4), I have weighed the public interest served by disclosure against the interest served by refusal of your request under Article 9(2)(c). I have determined that the public interest would not be served by disclosing the information you request.

In Stichting Natuur en Milieu & Oes v College voor de toelating van gewasbeschermingsmiddelen en biociden the CJEU held; ‘Article 4 of the AIE Directive must be interpreted as meaning that the balancing exercise it prescribes between the public interest served by the disclosure of environmental information and the specific interest served by a refusal to disclose must be carried out in each individual case submitted to the competent authorities.

In M50 Skip Hire & Recycling Limited v Commissioner for Environmental Information, Mr Justice Heslin acknowledged that while it was noteworthy that no definition of ‘public interest’ is contained in either the AIE Regulations or in the AIE Directive, it was clear from the terms of Article 10(3) that a public authority enjoys a discretion insofar as weighing up, in each individual case, the public interest served by a disclosure against the interest served by refusal to disclose environmental information.

Considering the above, it is within Coillte’s discretion to weigh up the public interest served by disclosing the information sought with the grounds for refusal, namely the fact that it would involve the release of material currently in the course of completion.  While the public has a right to access information on the workings of public bodies and accountability of decision making, in this case the arguments against release far outweigh those in favour. Release of material currently in the course of completion would not be in the public interest as the material is uncompleted and is actively being worked on by Coillte.

Right of review

Under Article 11 of the AIE Regulations you have a right to request an internal review of this decision. An internal review involves a complete reconsideration of the matter by a member of the staff of Coillte, unconnected with the original decision, of the same or higher rank than the original decision-maker, who may affirm, vary or annul the original decision. 

If you wish to request an internal review, you can do so by writing to:

Company Secretary

Coillte

Dublin Road