Wicklow TD Jennifer Whitmore has raised concerns in the Dáil with the Taoiseach about Coillte’s decision which will see them partner with UK investor firm to meet forestry targets. Responding to concerns raised by constituents in Wicklow Deputy Whitmore said:
“Coillte’s plans to partner with a private investment fund is causing huge concern across the country, including here in Wicklow. I have had people contact my office about this on a number of occasions since the story broke last week.
“Under the plans, Coillte will source tens of thousands of acres in rural Ireland, plant the trees and manage the forests. The State entity will do all the work with regard to this project but private international investors will reap the rewards. This news does make people nervous that locally future Coillte projects here in Wicklow may go the same way. We want our local community to be involved in driving climate action measures, not international investors.”
“I recognise that Coillte is an independent state entity which must operate within a statutory framework, however I believe that the responsibility to protect rural communities, meet climate targets and promote bio diversity lies firmly with government.”
Challenging the Taoiseach in the Dáil on this issue yesterday (18/01/2023) Deputy Whitmore said:
“Why is the Government facilitating this land grab by international investors, subsidising this through forestry grant schemes and tax incentives, and pushing up land prices across Ireland? Fine Gael has a track record of putting corporates before community and large investors before community, whether it is on housing or health, and now it appears to be happening on climate action.
“Why is the State not using some of its €5 billion surplus this year to invest in forestry for the benefit of rural Ireland, for the benefit of our climate targets and for the benefit of biodiversity? The Taoiseach needs to knock this deal on the head now.”
Deputy Whitmore went on to say:
“This is the very opposite of a Just Transition, and at a time when Government should be supporting rural and farming communities to transition to lower carbon way of doing business, they are instead going to put additional pressures on them through higher land prices and reduced opportunities.”