Prices for basic timber products up 60%, TD claims

Backlog of licences is squeezing supply

A Department of Agriculture backlog in applications for forestry licences, needed to fell or plant trees, and to build roads to transport logs, is squeezing supplies of timber needed for home building.

A Department of Agriculture backlog in applications for forestry licences, needed to fell or plant trees, and to build roads to transport logs, is squeezing supplies of timber needed for home building.

 

Prices for basic timber products have risen more than 60 per cent on the back of a crisis in supplies, Independent TD Michael McNamara claims.

A Department of Agriculture backlog in applications for forestry licences, needed to fell or plant trees, and to build roads to transport logs, is squeezing supplies of timber needed for home building.

A “simple 4ft by 2ft” length of timber now costs €13 from €8 last year, which is a 62.5 per cent increase, Mr McNamara said on Monday.

He added that one of the main builders’ suppliers in his Co Clare constituency was no longer stocking timber.

“Builders will not give quotes of more than a month’s duration because of inflation in the cost of supplies,” the TD maintained.

The Republic’s sawmilling industry has been relying on imports, but this is now threatening to dry up, according to one of the sector’s biggest players, Glennon Brothers.

Demand for timber in the UK, Europe and the United States is pushing up world prices while it is also putting pressure on supplies.

Industry figures here calculate that the licensing crisis is not just hitting supplies to Irish builders, it is also cutting the Republic off from export markets worth up to €1 billion a year.

Licences

By July 9th, the department has issued a total of 1,836 forestry licences, 40 per cent of the 4,500 target set by its own staff for 2021.

Staff have issued felling licences for 3.594 million cubic metres of timber so far this year, which is 70 per cent of last year’s total. However, 2020’s performance was down sharply on previous years.

The planting licences issued cover 2,695 hectares. The Government target for afforestation is 8,000 hectares a year. Department staff have issued permits for 151km of forest roads.

Mr McNamara argued that much of the timber now growing in the Republic is past maturity, while forest owners are struggling to get felling licences.

“There is chaos in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, particularly in its forestry section,” he said.

However, Charlie McConalogue, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, told the Independent deputy that his officials had substantially increased the number of felling licences issued to private landowners.

“This has already resulted in June being the highest month for private felling licences in over five years,” the Minister added.

Mr McConalogue noted that both he and his predecessors had brought several laws before the Oireachtas designed to speed up licensing.

This included emergency legislation, the Forestry (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2020, which passed last autumn.