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Minister Wallace announces major boost for wood energy supply chain

Ms Mary Wallace TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food has announced the awarding of almost €500,000 in grants under the Biomass Harvesting Machinery Grant Scheme launched by the Minister of State in April 2007.

The grants will support the acquisition of four self-contained whole tree chippers and one medium sized mobile wood chipper, by providing up to 40% of the purchase price of this equipment. The total associated investment amounts to some €1.5m. It is envisaged that the introduction of this new equipment into the marketplace will make a significant contribution to assisting developing enterprises in the wood chip supply sector and complement the Greener Homes Scheme and the Renewable Heat Deployment Programme, operated by Sustainable Energy Ireland.

Speaking at the Bioenergy '07 Open Day in Carlow today, Minister Wallace said she was greatly encouraged by the rapid development in this area of forestry production since taking office. "These are state-of-the-art machines and herald an exciting new period in biomass production from Irish forests," the Minister said. "We are creating a vital link between wood energy producers and wood energy users while, at the same time, ensuring that forest owners receive a fair return on their investment." Minister Wallace said she would be announcing a similar scheme in the Autumn, focussing on smaller mobile wood chippers which will provide further opportunities for developing forestry potential at a local level. "This is a very exciting time for Irish forestry, but we need to keep the momentum up in terms of new planting," she said. "I urge all landowners to look at what forestry has to offer in terms of stable, long-term income. 100% grants are available from my Department to cover the entire cost of planting, along with a guaranteed annual premium, tax-free for up to 20 years, and markets have never been stronger" The Minister pointed out, however, that landowners wishing to plant next year need to submit their applications now to be sure of approval in time for Spring '08.

30th August 2007

Date Released: 30 August 2007