A stock image of mountain forestry.

Felling of Coosan trees raised in Seanad

The cutting down of "over 3 acres of native forestry" in Coosan has been raised in the Seanad by a Fine Gael Senator, who said it had been done without the need for a felling licence due to "an anomaly" in forestry legislation.

Senator Micheál Carrigy raised the topic during a debate attended by Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue on Wednesday, May 10.

The Senator said the Forestry Act of 2014 included exemptions which allowed trees to be felled in certain circumstances without the requirement for a licence.

"One of the exemptions is for trees in an urban area. This is defined as the old municipal urban areas in any town," he said.

"The particular case I am referring to is in urban Athlone in the general area of Coosan... In this case, it was over 3 acres of native forestry, that had been there for the past 70 or 80 years, which was mowed down by machines."

In the Seanad, he said: "I made contact with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), and the forestry service, and we were told that it was completely legal. This does not make sense.

"We should be looking for more green areas, more forestry and more native woodlands within urban areas, instead of having the situation where there is an exemption for somebody to actually just cut it down without the need to get a licence."

He said that the forestry in question had been providing "drainage for the entire Coosan area, which is a large urban area in Athlone where more houses are going to be built."

"We need to preserve any green and forest areas we have in our urban areas rather than having these exemptions where somebody is able to come in and cut trees down with Hymacs, not even with chainsaws."

In his reply, Minister McConalogue said there were no current plans to amend the Forestry Act "as regards tree felling and the exemptions located within the Act."

He added, however, that the Government would "take on board the feedback and experiences as we find them, including (Senator Carrigy's) particular experience, and fully consider them as well."