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Coillte decides not to sell forest lands in Wicklow after 'people power wins out'

The 39 acres were listed as ‘agricultural land’ for €250,000.

The area for sale represented some 39 acres.
The area for sale represented some 39 acres.
Image: Google Maps

COILLTE HAS DECIDED not to proceed with the sale of 39 acres of forested land in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow following public criticism of the plans. 

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett today called the decision a “victory for people power” but said there needed to be “proper oversight” of plans for the sale of such land. 

Last week in the Dáil, the Dun Laoghaire TD held up advertisement for the lands on the Dublin-Wicklow border, which were on sale for €250,000. 

A public advertisement for the land describes it as being “agricultural land” that is “available immediately”  

“We are getting net deforestation and the State forestry company, which is entrusted with being the steward of the public forest estate, is flogging off public forestry.  That is utterly unacceptable,” Boyd Barrett had said last week.

In response, Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said that he would  “seek responses from Coillte in respect of the issue”. 

Speaking today, Boyd Barrett said that he has now been informed by Coillte that the sale would not be going ahead. 

He told reporters that Coillte had been approached by an interested party over the lands, something he said was “in and of itself an extraordinary admission”.

He added that, despite the proposed sale being “at an advanced stage”, it will now not proceed. 

The deputy shared an image of an email he received from Coillte confirming that that sale would not go ahead, with the State’s forestry custodian also outlining that this year it will acquire more land than it sells. 

The correspondence from Coillte states: 

As you highlighted, Coillte’s role is to manage the state forests on behalf of the people of Ireland. As part of this ongoing management, we regularly purchase new lands and forests and sell existing parts of the estate. This model is used by other state-owned forestry companies in Europe and is part of good forestry management. This year we expect to sell c150 hectares of land but at the same time will purchase c450 hectares of new lands and forests. 

In relation to these lands, we received an external enquiry and as part of the market and consultation process we have now made a decision not to continue with the sale. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Boyd Barrett said it was “a victory” that the sale would not go ahead but that should not be the end of the matter.

“The point I want to ask is, why was it that members of the public or indeed members the opposition had to point the government to the fact that the state forestry company was selling off a public amenity forest and there was no proper oversight of that,” he said. 

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In a statement, he added: “I was heartened at the public outcry at this proposed sale when I raised it in the Dáil and subsequently on social media. Once again people power wins out.”

In response to Boy Barrett’s Dáil comments, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “I am not in favour of the sale of forests at all, there can be local circumstances from time to time, local sports clubs looking for a bit of facilitation, or national bodies, but overall I’m not in favour of the sale of forests, I’m looking to grow more trees, we need to grow more trees, native trees in particular.” 

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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