Forest Service Appeals Unit
Every customer has the right facility to appeal against any decision of the Forest Service affecting his or her entitlements under the grant and premium schemes. In practice, the majority of appeals relate to the refusal of applications for planting approval or where approval has been given for a smaller area. In general appeals are lodged under the following categories:
- Approvals for afforestation, which are withheld, restricted or conditional
- Public consultations - third party appeals against afforestation proposals
- Premium and grant rates
- Other Schemes - Reconstitution of Woodland, Forest Roads and
- Penalty cases
In accordance with current environmental regulations, which came into operation in October 2001, an extensive consultation process is undertaken before an afforestation proposal is approved in certain environmentally sensitive areas. A press notice is placed in a local newspaper and the public is invited to submit observations on afforestation proposals for any of the following designated areas:
- Natural Heritage Area, Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area or a National Park
- an area containing an archaeological site or feature with intensive public usage
- a prime scenic area in a County Development Plan or listed in an Inventory of Outstanding Landscapes.
Local authorities and environmental organisations are also formally consulted about applications relating to such areas. If the public or any of these organisations object to the planting proposal, the Forest Service takes their observations and objections into consideration. If the decision on the proposal results in the objection not being upheld, those who objected are informed of their right to appeal within 21 days.
The Forest Service Appeals Unit is responsible for processing appeals by customers and third parties, as above. Appeals are dealt with as follows:
- all appeals are logged on receipt and acknowledged within five working days
- the relevant documents are forwarded to the divisional inspector for a report
- the application, the appeal and this report are put before the appeals committee for consideration
- where possible a substantive reply is issued within twenty working days
- where the matter requires a longer period of investigation, the appellant will be given a revised response time and informed of progress on an ongoing basis.
The appeals committee is comprised of senior officers from the inspectorate and administrative sides of the Forest Service. The independence and quality of the decisions are assured by the fact that inspections and adjudication on appeal cases are carried out by more senior officers previously not involved in the original decision.
Customers have recourse to the Office of the Ombudsman if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal.
Appeals should be made in writing setting out the grounds for the appeal and addressed to:
The Forest Service Appeals Unit
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Johnstown Castle Estate
You may contact the following staff in the Appeals Unit
Tel: 053 9165520
Removal of Trees from grant-aided plantations
General queries in respect of removing land from a grant-aided plantation should be addressed to the personnel listed at the end of this document.
All plantations are subject to the provisions of the Forestry Act, 1946. The purpose of the Act is to protect the national and private forest estate by regulating tree felling with a view to promoting sustainable forest management. With certain exceptions, a tree felling licence is needed before trees can be felled or otherwise removed. For further details see: www.agriculture.gov.ie/forestservice/treefelling/treefelling/
On receipt of an application to remove trees from a plantation (or where the Forest Service is made aware that trees have already been removed), a stop is placed on all future scheme payments in relation to the plantation.
Where not all the plantation is to be removed, the applicant is requested to submit a revised species map and table showing the remaining trees and the revised plantation boundaries. If it deems it necessary, the Forest Service may inspect the plantation.
The appropriate amount of grant and premium payments to be repaid is notified to the plantation owner who is given one month to repay the amount due; and a debt is registered against the owner. In the event that the owner does not forward the payment, interest accrues at 3% per annum and debts are offset against payments due to the owner under any other schemes operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Where ESB power lines traverse a site proposed for planting or a site already planted, the owner may be eligible for compensation from the ESB. The Forest Service will provide statements of premium loss for ESB compensation claims (such letters can be obtained from Anne Connolly – contact details below). For more information see Chapter 7 of the following document: Forestry Standards Manual November 2015 (pdf 5,448Kb)