This is the second time in the past three years I raised this matter on the Adjournment.
Due to intensive production of mushrooms and poultry in County Monaghan, and to a lesser extent in County Cavan, a serious problem has developed in disposing of poultry litter and mushroom waste. Some waste is dumped in landfill sites, some is spread on land and more is used in mushroom compost. In 1993 an INTERREG funded study indicated a dangerous high level of phosphates in the area which could have serious repercussions for waterways. As a result, members of the county council travelled to England to see how Fibrowatt operated. It is the world's first commercial power plant fuelled by poultry litter. Following a great deal of negotiation a site was secured and Monopower, which was linked to Fibrowatt, was established in Monaghan. As the company was not prepared to pay 40 per cent corporation tax, through negotiation, it was agreed that 10 per cent would apply to the manufacture of electricity.
In 1994, under a Fianna Fáil-led Government the Department of Energy introduced a scheme for non-fossil fuels, including recycled waste with a capacity to generate 75 megawatts of electricity. The scheme included biomass, wind farms, small hydro schemes and combined heat and power. Some 10 megawatts were set aside for farm waste which, following negotiations with the Department, was later increased to 15 megawatts. One can imagine the disappointment, therefore, when in March 1995 this Government announced that farm waste of biomass would not be included in the scheme. A competition was announced in December 1995 and projects were to be selected last October, but and official selection has not yet taken place. I have heard through the grapevine that negotiations have taken place with groups outside Monaghan. Because of bad weather last Christmas it was impossible to dispose of poultry litter and as a result the industry was unable to operate. I am sure the Minister of State will reply that the proposals are still being examined and a decision has not been made. He should come clean on the matter. I believe negotiations are taking place.
The proposal is for 30 megawatts and, if the worst comes to the worst, 15 megawatts would be adequate for the Monaghan project. Monopower and Fibrowatt are specialists in the field and there is no point in saying they are overpriced. We examined the plant in England and it was an effective way of generating electricity and getting rid of waste.
We do not wish to be told we have been unsuccessful. We are entitled to the project and there should be an even spread of the £7.5 million available. We will demand our share.