Forestry consultants have alleged that Ireland’s free forestry advice service breaches EU competition rules.
The Association of Irish Forestry Consultants (AIFC), which represents 190 forestry consultants, has written to the European Commission claiming its members cannot compete with the free service operated by Teagasc, Irish weather reports.
The AIFC says this is contributing to Ireland falling behind on its tree planting targets despite having ‘substantial tracts of land that can be used for forestry with significant and long-term financial benefits for landowners without interfering with agricultural production”.
Dermot Houlihan, AIFC President, said: “The AIFC has repeatedly raised these issues with the Ministry of Agriculture, but without success and had no choice but to file a formal complaint with of the European Commission.”
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine told the newspaper: ‘The department provides funding to a wide range of organizations, landowners and forestry companies that provide services aimed at improving forest management and encouraging more landowners to settle. new forests.
“Teagasc provides independent forestry advisory services and continues to promote increased awareness of forest management and encourage new landowners to consider forestry as a land use option.
“The direct establishment, maintenance, road construction and exploitation of the forests are carried out by the landowners who can engage the services of consultants. Teagasc does not carry out these direct activities which are carried out mainly by forestry consultants and companies.