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Minister Wallace welcomes Budget initiatives on Forestry and renewable energy

Ms Mary Wallace TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food with responsibility for forestry, welcomed the provisions in the Budget 2007 especially those aimed at boosting forestry planting and providing the necessary supports for the production of biomass (renewable wood) energy crops by farmers.

Referring to the Budget 2007 provisions in relation to energy crops, the Minister of State welcomed the inclusion of grant aid for the establishment of willow and for the purchase of the specialised harvesting machinery.

Noting the various provisions relating to environmental issues and renewable energy, Minister of State Wallace also welcomed the increase in the allocation for the Greener Homes Scheme of €20 million between now and the end of 2009. The scheme supports various environmentally sustainable heating methods including wood pellet and woodchip. Buildings in the non-commercial sector such as community centres and sport facilities will now also be able to avail of these supports. Welcoming the increase, the Minister of State said: "It is important to remember that wood energy is a home-grown, renewable and sustainable source of heat, electricity and bio-fuel and these initiatives not only benefit the environment and society generally but also forestry owners as it creates a market for their timber."

Minister of State Wallace added: "These new initiatives and improvements to existing schemes and supports demonstrate that this Government is taking a broad holistic view of rural development and renewable energy production and use. Farmers have the land and many of the skills necessary to produce timber for the renewable energy sector on a sustainable basis."

She concluded by encouraging farmers to seriously consider forestry as a land use alternative.

14 December 2006

Date Released: 14 December 2006