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Plan to charge for tree felling licence is axed

Planned charges for felling licences in Northern Ireland have been dropped, according to ConFor, the UK body representing forestry and wood-using businesses.

The plans outlined in the draft Forestry Bill would have required forest owners here to pay for a felling licence. The bill also brings in measures for the compulsory purchase of land and the establishment of a new forestry advisory body.

The decision to drop felling licence charges came after the Agriculture Committee asked the Department of Agriculture to reconsider and also sought clearer guidance on the power to purchase land.

The department has clarified the conditions on which any compulsory purchase of land would take place and determined that there is no need for a new advisory body.

Welcoming the news, Ian Paisley Jnr, chair of the committee, said: “I welcome the fact that you are waiving the fees, and that, if the department wants to bring them in at a later date, you will first get the Assembly’s authority.”

The committee made its request after meeting twice with ConFor (Confederation of Forest Industries) and examining a written briefing.

“I am glad the Department for Agriculture has listened to us and decided to drop the charge,” Con For chief executive Stuart Goodall said.

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“It would have undermined sustainable forest management and hampered supplies of wood to an important low-carbon sector.”

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