The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Ferris TD has criticized the decision to sell off forestry assets currently under the control of Coillte. The Kerry North Limerick West Deputy was speaking during a Committee hearing at which Coillte CEO David Gunning indicated that leases of up to 80 years would be issued for harvesting rights as part of the sale of state assets to raise €3 billion.
Deputy Ferris said;
“I absolutely oppose the sale or lease of Coillte forestry assets that have been built up over generations. The only ones to benefit from such a move would be speculators moving in on a national asset that has been developed through generations of public investment and effort.”
Ferris also asked Coillte to clarify whether a geological survey has been conducted on Coillte lands and if so what it discovered regarding possible mineral deposits under those lands. He said that this was an added element to be considered in the light of any long term lease or sale of the lands, given that private companies will have effective control over the lands for up to 80 years, as long as they have been in public ownership.
Coillte stated that if minerals are found the control over such deposits will remain with the state. They admitted that there was a geological survey which would provide a “broad brush” indication of where any mineral deposits are.