Forestry tops the agenda for Union

Attending this week's forestry meeting are Aileen Lawson, UFU; Harry Sinclair, President, UFU; John Hetherington, Premier Woodlands; and Jason Rankin, UFU.
Attending this week's forestry meeting are Aileen Lawson, UFU; Harry Sinclair, President, UFU; John Hetherington, Premier Woodlands; and Jason Rankin, UFU.

A DEPUTATION from the Ulster Farmers’ Union, headed up by President Harry Sinclair met Premier Woodlands’ Managing Director John Hetherington in Magherafelt earlier this week to discuss a number of issues relating to the development of the private forestry sector in Northern Ireland.

Topics covered included the introduction of tree felling licences, the ongoing CAP review, the growing threat of imported diseases on tree health and the potential to expand the private woodland sector.

Speaking afterwards, the Union President confirmed that the meeting had been both extremely positive and informative.

He added: “There is scope to increase the levels of tree planting on almost every local farm, particularly in those areas that are not that well suited to production agriculture. Every step must be taken to ensure that this potential is maximised.

“The future role of forestry will also have a direct bearing on the outcome of the CAP negotiations, particularly where issues such as greening are concerned.”

John Hetherington confirmed that tree felling licences are planned to be introduced on April 1st 2013.

“They will have a direct bearing on every woodland owner, including those who did not receive planting grants or annual payments,” he added.

“It is crucially important for the CAP review negotiations to ensure the continuation of a vibrant woodland sector in Northern Ireland. Issues such as the definition of an eligible farmer in relation to woodland grant schemes must be resolved in our favour.

“A number of potentially devastating tree diseases have been introduced into Northern Ireland over recent years. It is critically important that every possible measure is introduced to ensure the highest possible plant health status is maintained in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Hetherington concluded: “I would like to thank Harry Sinclair and his team for taking the time to visit Premier Woodlands. The meeting was extremely productive and I would like to build on this for the future.”