Bacon says State sale of Coillte rights not justified
A report on the forestry sector by economist Peter Bacon has said the sale of Coillte harvesting rights “cannot be justified” on economic grounds.
The Government said last June it would sell the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests.
The decision was made as part of the Government’s commitment to the troika to realise value from State assets that strategically did not have to be in State ownership.
In a report commissioned by the Coillte branch of Impact, Mr Bacon and his consultancy firm conclude the State would be liable for costs of €1.3 bil- lion following a sale of harvesting rights. To cover these costs, Coillte would need to sell at €78 a square metre, “well above current or recent prices.”
The average recent price for Coillte supplies to saw mills has been just over €43 a square metre, according to the report published yesterday. As a result, the sale of Coillte harvesting rights would not generate State income, but would in fact cost the exchequer, Mr Bacon found.
Impact assistant general secretary Johnny Fox said the findings fundamentally undermined the only rationale the Government had put forward for the sale.