The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Natural Resources Martin Ferris TD has called on the government to establish an independent evaluation of Coillte assets. Deputy Ferris said that this was vital given the increasing signs that forestry and land assets under Coillte’s control are going to be part of the sale of state assets.
Deputy Ferris said: “The government has rapidly moved from a position where both Fine Gael and Labour were promising not to sell off forestry assets to one where this is now being spoken of as a done deal. Just two weeks ago Coillte CEO David Gunning said that he accepted that Coillte was part of the plan to realise at least €3 billion from such a sale.
“As part of that, Coillte assets are apparently being valued in preparation. Given the huge value of those assets and the greater potential that exists in the future from forestry, renewable energy and other activities on currently owned state lands it is vital that the Irish people, who are the actual owners of those assets know the value of what is being proposed to be sold.
“It is also known that Coillte has commissioned geological surveys but they have never been released. Will it be the case then that Coillte lands are sold to private companies on the basis that they have been told of the extent of what may lie under publicly owned lands, as with the gas in the Lough Allen basin?.
“It is my belief that the public would strenuously oppose any proposed sale or lease of Coillte lands if there was a public debate on their actual and potential future value to this country.”