Minister Hackett welcomes publication of the 2021 Forestry Appeals Committee Report
Press Release 01 April
The Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Senator Pippa Hackett has welcomed the publication of the 2021 Forestry Appeals Committee (FAC), Report. The Forestry Appeals Committee is the independent appeals body for anybody who wishes to appeal the decision of the Minister to grant a license for forestry planting, felling or forestry road construction. The Chairman of the FAC, Mr. Des Johnson submitted his annual report for 2021 to the Minister.
Minister Hackett said “2021 was a significant year for the FAC, as it witnessed the transformation of its operation and a huge reduction in the backlog and turnaround times. The existence of a right of appeal by any citizen is, I believe, an essential element of the forestry decision-making process in Ireland and this must be allied to an efficient appeals process which the FAC is now very clearly delivering. It’s important that both appellants and licence holders see a transparent and comprehensive appeals process and feel that due process is fully served and this is very much the case.”
The FAC Chairperson’s report fulfils the legal obligations of Section 14 (4) of the Agriculture Appeals Act, 2001. Amongst the main features in the Chairman’s report were:
· In January 2021 there were 392 licences subject to appeal which were carried over from the previous years. An additional 107 licences were appealed in 2021. During 2021, 463 cases were closed, including outstanding licences that were under appeal from previous years. This has resulted in a clearing of all backlog appeals and allows for timelier determination of new appeals:
· The average time taken to determine an appeal from date of hearing was 21 days.
In 2020, the FAC was hearing approximately 24 licences each month. In 2021, the FAC heard appeals against an average of 34 licences per month
The Appeals Committee now has less than 30 open appeal cases on hand for processing;
Publishing of all decisions, assessments and consultancy reports on the FAC website (www.agriappeals.gov.ie/forestryappealscommittee/)
The Chairman of the FAC, Des Johnson has also confirmed to the Minister his intention to step down as Chairperson of the Forestry Appeals Committee with effect from 30th April.
Minister Hackett concluded “I would like to acknowledge Des Johnson’s excellent guidance of this change process over the last 3 years and to thank him for all his work in overseeing an effective and responsive appeals process. The Report clearly highlighted the enormous progress of the FAC last year and this is due in no small part to his stewardship of the Committee. I would also like to thank the Deputy Chairpersons, all the members of the Committee and the staff of the Agriculture Appeals Office for their continued contribution in ensuring an effective and efficient appeals service for the forestry sector”.