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Severe job losses are feared to hit the forestry sector if a backlog in the allocation of timber felling licenses is not dealt with while Clare councillors have maintained the estimated two year delay will affect all households.

Charlie McConalogue (FF) is the third Minister for Agriculture in Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s (FF) Cabinet and he has been called on by Clare councillors to intervene in the allocation of timber felling licences.

Construction companies across the country are unable to get supplies as a result of the backlog in licenses being awarded, Monday’s adjourned meeting of Clare County Council heard. Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) had requested Minister McConalogue tackle the matter as he cited “a very long delay” in the acquiring licences.

Cllr Ryan stated, “Not alone is it a countywide but a nationwide problem, it is virtually impossible to get a felling licence for timber”. He said that 700 applications were currently with the Department of Agriculture but that the majority had been objected by Peter Sweetman, “he likes the idea of objecting to these things,” the Cratloe representative remarked.

Legislation on the topic is before the Dáil but Cllr Ryan believed the process was “very slow”. He felt it was sustainable to manage plantations at present and also warned that sawmills will have to close down if the issue is not addressed. “I know several people in jeopardy if this doesn’t get priority,” he cautioned.

Seconding the motion, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) referenced recent correspondence councillors received from Gerry O’Leary. “We will all pay the price. These delays are now up to two years and it will affect us all on the cost of construction and heating. This is counter the Green agenda,” she commented.

Further support to the call to action was voiced by Cllr PJ Kelly (FF). “The problem is creating difficulties for many people producing timber in West Clare at the moment,” he observed.

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