Q&A Forestry Act 2014

May 30, 2017

Q&A Forestry Act 2014



Q.What is the new Forestry Act 2014?

An Act to make further and better provision in relation to forestry, to provide for 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, to confer power on the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine to make regulations for the effective management of the forestry sector, to make further provision for the giving effect to acts of the institutions of the European Union by regulation made by that Minister in respect of forestry and forestry-related activities, to repeal the Forestry Act 1946 , to amend the Wildlife Act 1976 , to amend the Agriculture Appeals Act 2001 , to amend the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 and to provide for related matters.

 

Q.What does the new Act cover?

 The new Act covers the following areas:

  • Administration of Forestry Sector
  • Protection of Environment
  • Felling of Trees
  • Afforestation, Forest Road Works and Aerial Fertilisation of Forests
  • Enforcement
  • Replanting Orders
  • Offences and Penalties
  • Regulations
  • Amendment of Agriculture Appeals Act 2001

 

 Q.How does it differ from the 1946 Forestry Act?

 

  • Establishes a single licence process for tree felling.
  • Increases the list of exempted trees to allow felling without a tree felling licence for trees outside of the forest in certain circumstances.
  • Allows for felling licences of up to 10 years in duration, which may be extended for one or more further periods, not exceeding a total of 5 years.
  • Introduces timelines for processing felling licences.
  • Introduces tougher penalties for illegal felling of trees aimed at maintaining the area of existing forest and helps prevent future deforestation.
  • Obliges the licensee when felling a forest to erect a site notice at the entrance from the public road prior to the commencement of harvesting operations.

 

 Q.How does the Act define a forest?

Forest land is defined in the Forestry Act 2014 as:

land under trees with— (a) a minimum area of 0.1 hectare, and (b) tree crown cover of more than 20 per cent of the total area, or the potential to achieve this cover at maturity.

 

Q.What are Trees outside a forest?

 

Trees outside a forest are those trees which do not meet the forest definition. Examples include trees growing in the hedgerow.

In the case of trees outside the forest, certain exemptions exist to the requirement to submit a tree felling licence application.

 

 Q.Are there any scenarios where trees can be felled without the need to submit a tree felling licence application under Section 19 of the Forestry Act 2014?

  • A tree in an urban area – an urban area is an area that comprised a city, town or borough specified in Part 2 of Schedule 5 and in Schedule 6 of the Local Government Act 2001 before the enactment of the Local Government Reform Act 2014.
  • A tree within 30 metres of a building (other than a wall or temporary structure), but excluding any building built after the trees were planted.
  • A tree less than 5 years of age that came about through natural regeneration and removed from a field as part of the normal maintenance of agricultural land (but not where the tree is standing in a hedgerow).
  • A tree uprooted in a nursery for the purpose of transplantation.
  • A tree of the willow or poplar species planted and maintained solely for fuel under a short rotation coppice.
  • Trees outside a forest—within 10 metres of a public road and which, in the opinion of the owner (being an opinion formed on reasonable grounds), is dangerous to persons using the public road on account of its age or condition.
  • Trees outside a forest— the removal of which is specified in a grant of planning permission.
  • Trees outside a forest— on an agricultural holding and removed by the owner for use on that holding, provided—
    • I. it does not form part of a decorative avenue or ring of trees,II. its volume does not exceed 3 cubic metres, and

      III. the removal of it, by the owner for the foregoing purpose, when taken together with the removal of other such trees by the owner for that purpose, would not result in the total volume of trees, on that holding and removed by the owner for that purpose, exceeding 15 cubic metres in any period of 12 months.

  • Note: Under Sec 2 of Section 19 the above three exemptions do not apply in the case of a tree:
    • (a)   within the curtilage or attendant grounds of a protected structure under Chapter 1 of Part IV of the Act of 2000(b)   within an area subject to a special amenity area order

      (c)    within a landscape conservation area under section 204 of the Act of 2000

      (d) within

      • (i). a monument or place recorded under section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994,(ii). a historic monument or archaeological area entered in the Register of Historic Monuments under section 5 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987

        (d)   a national monument in the ownership or guardianship of the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the National Monuments Acts 1930 to1994 within a European Site or a natural heritage area within the meaning of Regulation 2(1) of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477 of 2011)

        (e) which is more than 150 years old.

  • Trees outside a forest— of the hawthorn or blackthorn species.
  • Trees outside a forest— in a hedgerow and felled for the purposes of its trimming, provided that the tree does not exceed 20 centimetres in diameter when measured 1.3 metres from the ground.

In all cases, it is the responsibility of the land owner or the person felling the tree to ensure that they are acting within the law

None of the exemptions granted under Section 19 of the Forestry Act 2014 serve to remove any restriction on the felling or removal of trees under (a) the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2013, (b) the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2000, and in particular section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, or (c) any other enactment.

 

 

 

Q.What are the main changes introduced by the Act and regulations?

  1. Control of Felling

The principal changes are as follows:

  • Introduces a single licence process for tree felling;
  • Increases the list of exempted trees to allow felling without a tree felling licence for trees outside of the forest in certain circumstances;
  • Allows for felling licences of up to 10 years in duration, which may be extended for one or more further periods, not exceeding a total of 5 years;
  • Introduces timelines for processing felling licences;
  • Where a tree felling licence application is received, the Department will publish a notice of the application before making a decision on the matter. The notice shall state that any person may make a submission or observation to the Department within 30 days from the date of the notice.
  • Where a licence for the felling of trees is granted, the licensee shall erect a site notice at the entrance from the public road prior to the commencement and for the duration of harvesting operations.

Important points to note are that:

Felling Licences issued before 24 May 2017 will be issued under the Forestry Act, 1946.

  1. Following the commencement of the Forestry Act, 2014, a Felling Licence granted under the Forestry Act, 1946, will be deemed to be a licence granted under Forestry Act, 2014.
  2. Felling Licences issued on or after 24 May 2017 will be issued under the Forestry Act, 2014. This will include felling licence applications which were received in the Department prior to 24 May 2017 and the licence issues on or after that date.

 

Q.Control of Aerial Fertilisation

The provisions of S.I.125 of 2012 have been subsumed into this regulation and there is no change to the arrangements for application and processing of these applications. As has applied up to now, aerial fertilisation is prohibited during the period from 1 September to 31 March of the following year, unless where the Minister considers that exceptional circumstances so warrant.

The new regulations retain the same limits for permissible fertiliser types, concentrations and application rates, and revise the exclusion zones for certain environmental sensitivities.

Q.Control of Afforestation and Forest Road Works

The regulation closely mirrors the provisions of S.I. 558 of 2010 relating to consent for afforestation and forest road construction. The application process, consultation and environmental screening remain unchanged. The significant change in relation to licensing or consent for afforestation and forest road construction is the introduction of a requirement for the placing of Site Notices on sites proposed for afforestation or the construction of a forest road.

All Afforestation and Forest Road applications submitted for approval as and from 24 May 2017 must have a Site Notice appropriately positioned on the site.

All unexpired afforestation and forest road approvals issued before the commencement date of 24 May 2017 will continue to be valid under the law.

  1. Relevant Site Notices
  •  Licences for Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme and Forest Road Works

The Site Notice must be maintained in position for a period of not less than five weeks from date of receipt of the licence application by the Department. If the Notice is removed or becomes illegible it must be replaced within that period. The contract number (CN) must be included on the Site Notice.

  • Tree Felling Licences

Where a licence for the felling of trees is granted on or after 24 May 2017, the licensee shall erect a Site Notice, seven days prior to the commencement of and remain in place for the duration of harvesting operations.

  1. Appeals

Section 35 of the Forestry Act, 2014, provides for the setting up of a Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC) on a statutory basis to deal with appeals against licence applications for felling, aerial fertilisation, afforestation and forest road works. In the case of afforestation and forest road construction the appeals relate to Form 1 applications only and include appeals by third parties.

The Committee will be set up under the independent Agriculture Appeals Office and its membership will comprise of Appeals Officers appointed by the Minister. All payment appeals under the Schemes (Form 2, Form 3, Form 4, Form 5) will continue to be dealt with by the Agriculture Appeals Office.

The time limit for receipt of an appeal to the Forestry Appeals Committee will be 28 days from the date of the decision. This time limit will apply to both applicants and all third parties. This will mean that no forestry operation (including felling) can proceed for a month after a positive decision has been received in order to allow time for any third party to object.

 

 

  1. What is the Legal and Regulatory Framework relevant to Irish Forestry and the new Act?

The following lists relevant Irish and EU legislation, together with the various international protocols which have a bearing on forest practice in Ireland.

Primary legislation

  • Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992
  • Forestry Act 1946
  • Forestry Act 1988
  • Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009
  • Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts 1977-1990
  • National Monuments Acts 1930-2004
  • Occupiers Liability Act 1995
  • Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2011
  • Roads Act 1993 to 2007
  • Waste Management Acts 1996 to 2011
  • Wildlife Acts 1976 and 2000

Secondary legislation

  • Forestry Act 1946 (Part IV) Regulations 1949 (S.I. No. 67 of 1949)
  • European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 272 of 2009)
  • European Communities (Forest Consent and Assessment) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No 558 of 2010)
  • European Communities (Aerial Fertilisation) (Forestry) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No 125 of 2012)
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 504 of 2006)
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 299 of 2007)
  • Planning and Development Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 600 of 2001)

 EU Legislation

  • Council Directive 66/404/EEC on the marketing of forest reproductive material.
  • Council Directive 71/161/EEC on external quality standards for forest reproductive material marketed within the Community.

 

  • Council Directive 77/93/EEC on protective measures against the introduction into the Community of organisms harmful to plants or plant products and against their spread within the Community.
  • Council Directive 79/409/EEC on the conservation of wild birds.
  • Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.
  • Council Directive 1999/105/EC on the marketing of forest reproductive material.
  • Directive 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.
  • Directive 2001/42/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment.

 

  • Directive 2006/11/EC on pollution caused by certain dangerous substances discharged into the aquatic environment of the Community.
  • Community Directive 2011/92/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.

 

 

Sources:

  • Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine
  • Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority