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Applications for Bioenergy Scheme hit First Year Target of 1,400 Hectares

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today expressed satisfaction with the uptake of the Bioenergy Scheme to grant aid the planting of willow and miscanthus. The figures show that the number of applications for establishment grants will reach the 1,400-hectare target set for the first year of the scheme.

The Minister said that the level of applications represent a very significant first step in the development of the energy crops sector in Ireland. "I am pleased that the scheme, which is being run on a pilot basis in 2007, has attracted significant interest from farmers. This is a very good outcome for the first year of the scheme and is in line with the provisions made in the Budget".

Minister Coughlan continued "There are opportunities for Irish farmers in the newly emerging energy crops sector and while, we are starting from a low base, I would expect that over time we can establish a viable and sustainable industry."

She confirmed that her Department is processing all applications as received to enable successful applicants commence planting without delay.

The Minister reminded farmers who have applied for establishment grants under the Bioenergy Scheme to also submit an application for the EU Energy Crops Scheme or on set-aside areas under the Non-Food Set-aside Scheme. She added that establishment grants are only payable on areas sown under the EU Energy Crops Scheme or under the Non-Food Set-aside scheme so it is vitally important that farmers declare the land parcels used for energy crop production in their 2007 Single payment application.

Minister Coughlan pointed out that, under the EU Energy Crops Scheme, farmers receive EU aid of ?45 per hectare per year, for areas sown under energy crops. This not alone includes miscanthus and willow, but also annual crops, such as oilseed rape. The Minister took the opportunity to remind farmers that, as a further incentive to grow energy crops, an additional €80 per hectare national top-up will be payable, in addition to the €45 EU premium, increasing the overall premium available to €125 per hectare.

4 April, 2007

Notes for Editors

Some 133 applications have been submitted to date to the Department for establishment grants in respect of the planting of miscanthus and 17 applications for willow. The establishment grants amount to up to €1450 per hectare.

Date Released: 04 April 2007