Every customer has the right facility to appeal against any decision of the Forest Service affecting his or her entitlements under the grant and premium schemes. In practice, the majority of appeals relate to the refusal of applications for planting approval or where approval has been given for a smaller area. In general appeals are lodged under the following categories:
In accordance with current environmental regulations, which came into operation in October 2001, an extensive consultation process is undertaken before an afforestation proposal is approved in certain environmentally sensitive areas. A press notice is placed in a local newspaper and the public is invited to submit observations on afforestation proposals for any of the following designated areas:
Local authorities and environmental organisations are also formally consulted about applications relating to such areas. If the public or any of these organisations object to the planting proposal, the Forest Service takes their observations and objections into consideration. If the decision on the proposal results in the objection not being upheld, those who objected are informed of their right to appeal within 21 days.
The Forest Service Appeals Unit is responsible for processing appeals by customers and third parties, as above. Appeals are dealt with as follows:
The appeals committee is comprised of senior officers from the inspectorate and administrative sides of the Forest Service. The independence and quality of the decisions are assured by the fact that inspections and adjudication on appeal cases are carried out by more senior officers previously not involved in the original decision.
Customers have recourse to the Office of the Ombudsman if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of their appeal.
Appeals should be made in writing setting out the grounds for the appeal and addressed to:
The Forest Service Appeals Unit
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,
Johnstown Castle Estate,
Tel: 053 916 0213