Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (55)

Brian Stanley


55. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of plans to create an indigenous supply of biomass to supply material for power generation. [5578/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In line with Government policy my Department is committed to increasing the supply of biomass from Ireland’s forests in support of our renewable energy targets. In 2017 the roundwood harvest (including firewood) was 3.54 million cubic metres, the highest level since records began, 42% of which was used for energy purposes. Timber production is set to double to 8 million cubic metres in the years up to 2035 and the majority of this will come from private forests. It is very important that this material is mobilised in order the meet the growing demand for biomass.

In this respect, the successful introduction of Knowledge Transfer Groups in 2018 , which give private owners the knowledge to bring their product to market is a significant initiative. This scheme will re-open shortly to new members.

Ongoing support for the production of biomass will continue to be provided under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020 which funds private afforestation and includes a specific “forestry for fibre ” scheme. My Department provides grant aid for the construction of forest roads which helps in the mobilisation of biomass and also funds a woodland improvement scheme for thinning of broadleaved woodlands, a key source of domestic heating fuel.

We also support the portal which provides advice on supply chain costings and technologies for forest-based biomass. Another recent development is an on-line All Roundwood Production Forecast tool. This enables area-based forecasts of roundwood availability and may be accessed via my Department’s website.