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Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 11 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Questions (24)

Richard Bruton


24 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress that he is making in meeting bioenergy scheme targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11937/10]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

The cultivation of miscanthus and willow is a relatively new activity on Irish farms. In 2007, the Department launched a Bioenergy Scheme on a pilot basis to encourage farmers to grow willow and miscanthus as a renewable source of energy. Under the Scheme, farmers were paid a once off capital grant to cover 50% of establishment costs. The pilot Scheme generated considerable interest from farmers in growing miscanthus and to a lesser extent willow. Overall it supported the planting of 362 ha of willow and 2,150 ha of miscanthus to the end of 2009.

The Department launched a new Bioenergy Scheme in February 2010 to grant aid miscanthus and willow planting to the end of 2012. €1 million is available to support the planting of a further 1,000 hectares in 2010. Approved costs will be grant aided up to 50%, subject to a maximum grant of €1,300 per hectare for both crops. It was evident from the response to the pilot Bioenergy Scheme that there is considerable interest in growing miscanthus and willow in Ireland. The crops are new to Irish farmers and it will take time and investment to develop the sector. The new Bioenergy Scheme aims to consolidate progress made during the pilot phase and bring some scale to the sector. The Department will continue to monitor the level of uptake over the lifetime of the Scheme.