There has been a warning that domestic timber supplies for the construction sector will run out before the end of November with the loss of hundreds of jobs, if the Government cannot speed up the felling of trees.

A stringent new licensing system, introduced to authorise essential work in planting, felling and thinning, has already led to major delays and employers say workers, contractors, hauliers and growers are already having to let people go. 

Forest Industries Ireland have called on the Government to take urgent action to deal with the backlog.

They say a backlog of 1.1 million cubic metres of logs - the amount of timber needed for 55,000 houses - is now held up in the new appeals and the licencing process in the Department of Agriculture.

Representatives of the hardware association say they are already looking at the rising cost of timber for their stores.

Sawmills claim they cannot take on additional staff or recruit apprentices in the autumn unless the present backlog is cleared.

This afternoon the Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry, Pippa Hackett, said legislation would come before the Dil later this month aimed at making the appeals system comparable to the county council planning process.

However Senator Hackett said people were entitled to object or appeal.

She said she was hopeful the situation might be remedied before the end of November.