Afforestation Programme

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 1:00 pm on 2nd March 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 1:00 pm, 2nd March 2020

The Member is right that there are vast areas. DFI and Minister Mallon have been very willing to cooperate with me. Northern Ireland Water and Transport NI have large swathes of land that we could use, and, all being well, that will be the case. Local authorities also have large swathes of land, as, indeed, do many of the arm's-length bodies.

The actual planting of trees is not expensive: it is the acquisition of the land that is expensive. If we in Northern Ireland were to acquire 700 hectares of land each year, at roughly £25,000 per hectare, that would be a huge cost to us, so the logical thing to do is to use the land that is already available to us. We want to work on that with other Departments. I trust that other Departments, and local authorities, will do that and I believe that they will. Aside from that, we need to work with and develop the relationships that we have with the rural community in order to encourage further tree planting on privately owned land.