Coillte encouraging big budget US film productions to use its forests for locations

Claims that wind energy projects are pitting neighbour against neighbour

State forestry company Coillte is targeting big-budget US productions in its drive to get its lands used as film and television locations, the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture heard yesterday.

It launched its location online portfolio in January with television and marketing company O'Carroll Mulhern Services, saying it aimed to be Ireland's biggest provider of outdoor film locations by 2018.

Coillte Enterprise director Mark Foley said it was marketing Coillte’s estate “as a prime location for film and TV ventures, both home-based and in particular aimed at the big-budget US productions”.

International producers
After the committee meeting a Coillte spokeswoman said the company had received interest from a number of domestic and international producers. Several large production companies were already using Coillte lands including Lobster , currently being filmed in Kerry with Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, and The Woods , a horror film being made in Galway.

Moone Boy and The Viking s continued to be filmed on Coillte sites.

She said several large music festivals were also in the advanced stages of pre-production for Coillte sites.

Strong criticism
Earlier the Oireachtas committee heard strong criticism from Labour's Willie Penrose about the way some promoters of wind energy projects operate. Coillte is involved in many renewable energy projects, including wind energy.

“I want to make sure that Coillte is not going to be part of this corporate bullying. If you are living in one of the five counties in the midlands you see it at play . . . sneakiness going on, deals being signed overnight and behind people’s backs. And neighbours being taken out of the system. There’s family against family.”

Coillte's acting chief executive Gerry Britchfield said Coillte was led by Government policy on wind energy "but we are rooted in communities".

"We have to get on with communities in order to be able to carry out our business."

Better ways
Mr Britchfield said Coillte was always trying to find better ways of doing this "but we do make a real effort to engage with communities and try to explain why we are doing it, and then there is a planning process where people can, if they don't agree with us, put their views on the table".