Coillte welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Kilkenny County Development Plan 2020-2026 Pre-Draft Issues Paper (Issues Paper). As custodians of 5% of Kilkenny County Council’s administrative area occupying some 10,850 hectares and sharing your desire to provide a robust, responsive and resilient Development Plan for the long term planning of the county, we believe that Coillte can play a key role in supporting the delivery the cross cutting issues that the Issues Paper identifies as being of both local and national significance which affects all sectors throughout the County.
We believe that Ireland is at a critical juncture in terms of the opportunity being afforded us to transform how we plan to address climate change and cater for forecasted population growth, thus providing a key building block for sustainable economic growth and competitiveness across the whole of the island. We are completely committed to Ireland’s decarbonisation agenda and the consequential requirement to reshape our economy in its entirety. Due to the nature of our land holding and our experience, we can make a signature contribution to the decarbonisation of the economy. We are also committed to supporting national and regional planning policy, including the objectives of the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) for the Southern Region.
1.1 Key Focus of Submission
In order for Kilkenny Co. Co. to realise its full potential from a social, economic and environmental perspective, we ask the Council to consider whether the current renewable energy designations inhibit or promote the core values and development objectives? As the Council starts to prepare its next Development Plan which will cover the period from 2020-2026, we ask the Council to take a fresh look at all existing renewable energy designations. More specifically, we ask the Council to review whether areas that are currently designated as Open to Consideration for wind energy development should be designated as Preferred or Strategically Suitable Areas and remove the current 5MW upper limit that currently applies to Open to Consideration Areas.
1.2 Structure of Submission
Our submission broadly focuses on three of the cross cutting issues that are identified in the Issues Paper, namely Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Social Inclusion. The submission is therefore structured as follows:
2.0 Overview of Coillte in context of Co. Kilkenny
3.0 Sustainable Development
4.0 Climate Change
5.0 Social Inclusion and Tourism Growth
2.0 Overview of Coillte in Context of Co. Kilkenny
Coillte was established as a commercial semi-state company in 1989, with a diverse forest estate of approximately 396,000 hectares of land. Over the last 29 years, the organisation has developed the forests and strategic elements of the land bank, has grown the estate to over 440,000 hectares, and today provides stewardship over approximately 7% of the total land mass of the country. During this time we have provided the public with a huge range of benefits from recreation, to critical infrastructure, to environmental services. Our Forestry business underpins a thriving export-led Forest Products Sector which support €2.31 Billion of economic activity. Coillte has approximately 900 employees across Ireland and the UK, with 180 of our employees based in Co. Kilkenny supporting indigenous employment and comprises three discrete businesses, Land Solutions, Forest and Medite Smartply (Panels) which delivered earnings (EBITDA) of €85.2 million in 2017. Our vision is to make Coillte the best forestry and land solutions company in Europe.