Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Industry figures blast new Bioenergy Scheme

Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

Industry representatives have slammed the relaunched Department of Agriculture Bioenergy Scheme as not doing enough to support the sector.

The new phase of the scheme, which runs for three years, limits the maximum production area per applicant to 30ha.

The scheme, which is co-funded by the EU, allows for an establishment grant of up to 50pc for the growing of willow and miscanthus.

However, those active in the industry claim it doesn't go far enough to support the sector, which has been described as "the greatest opportunity in farming for decades".

Joe Hogan of JHM Crops Ltd in Adare, Co Limerick, told a Teagasc bioenergy conference in Carlow that he could offer seven-year contracts to growers or even longer if it were needed.

Under the new scheme, growers have to prove they have secured an end use contract for their product.

"There is not enough miscanthus in Ireland for its current uses not to mind the proposed uses for it," Mr Hogan said.

Raymond O'Neill of Waterford-based Natural Power Supply Ltd, which specialises in the sale of pellet and woodchip boilers, said Ireland's potential for growing willow was not being exploited fully.

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He said the structure of Government supports was not adequate and industry had to be led to stimulate demand.

Mr O'Neill called for a premium payment for willow production as has happened in forestry. He also called for the co-fuelling of power stations.

Mel McDonagh from the Department of Agriculture warned prospective applicants for the Bioenergy Scheme 2010-2012 that the March 31 deadline was absolute and late applications could not be accepted.

Application forms are available from the Department's Bioenergy Policy Unit, Kea Lew, Portlaoise.

Tel 057 8692231 or email

Irish Independent