Coillte u-turn on Lis Na Gra woodlands

Photo: Bren Whelan
Photo: Bren Whelan

Representatives from Coillte have given a verbal agreement to local environmentalists that they will look at an alternative route into the woodland at Lis na Gra in Muff.

A meeting was held yesterday (Thursday) between Coillte representatives and Councillor Jack Murray, locals Bren Whelan and Margaret Peoples, who raised their concerns at a recently submitted planning application for a roadway through the centre of the much-loved woodland.

Lis Na Gra is home to many native species including, but not limited to the red squirrel, pine martin, long-eared bat, Irish hare, jay, great spotted woodpecker, buzzard and raven.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ following the meeting, Bren Whelan said Coillte were “very positive, receptive and willing to listen.

“They have agreed to look at another route into the woodland.

“It is evident from the meeting that Coillte had the best interests of the woodland at heart. We were well aware that the Sitka Spruce crop needed to be harvested.

“It was planted in 1976 and needs to come out from both a commercial and safety perspective,” he maintained.

Mr. Whelan added that a verbal agreement was made with the representatives from Coillte and they will now work with Donegal County Council Roads Service in an attempt to find a more direct route into the woodland. An online petition against the planning application has already reached almost 2,500 signatures and Mr. Whelan said they will continue to monitor the issue.

“From our point of view, because we raised the issue surrounding the planning application so early, we were able to get this level of engagement with Coillte long before the deadline.

“Colr. Murray is set to work with the Roads Service and we should have more information within a week. This still leaves time to object if the plans are not changed. They have the best of intentions for the woodland at heart. They will replant it with 80% Scott’s Pine, which they don’t harvest,” he added.

Multi-award winning filmmaker Colin Stafford Johnson is set to visit Lis Na Gra on Monday, and also voiced his opposition to Coillte’s plans. A public meeting will be held in St. Mary’s Hall, Muff, on Friday, December 1 at 7pm to further update the public.