Government must stop Coillte’s planned partnership - Carthy TD

A local TD has told the Dáil that the government has the power to instruct Coillte to stop the proposed joint venture with the asset management company, Gresham House.

Speaking during a Dail debate on the climate crisis the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy, also said that government must ensure that state funds are not used to facilitate the move.

Deputy Carthy noted the annual target of 8,000 hectares of new afforestation set out in the Programme for Government had been missed and quipped: "We are now planting less forestry than we were during the second world war."

He said the crisis in forestry "has intensified" and added:

“Now, in an all-too-familiar story, the answer of this government appears to be to facilitate the sale of thousands of hectares of Irish land to a British investment vehicle.

“We are told that the Green Party Minister of State knew as far back as March 2021 of Coillte plans to use such a private vehicle to acquire lands. Yet, following the recent formal announcement by Coillte of their proposed arrangement with the Gresham House Fund, Ministers have pretended that they are somehow observers.

“But the Minister for Agriculture is the shareholder, on behalf of the Irish people, in Coillte. He can, and he should, instruct Coillte to immediately stall this plan.

“And government can and should state categorically that will not permit the use of €2billion of Irish taxpayers money to be used to facilitate this land-grab.

“The joint venture is not about climate, it’s not even about forestry, Gresham House has confirmed that 8,000 hectares of their Irish portfolio will be existing forestry land, as little as 3,000 hectares will be bare land for new tree-planting. For Gresham House, this venture is simply about corporate profit."

The Cavan-Monaghan TD said that a good forestry policy is one that delivers for the environment, communities and local economies.

“The Coillte joint venture with Gresham House will deliver in none of those areas, just as this government have delivered in none of those areas," he continued.

“The Minister should therefore use this debate as an opportunity to confirm that government will stop this scandalous venture immediately”.