Funding to expand Irish bioenergy scheme

Willow and miscanthus crops will be used for a new biomass scheme after funding was announced by the Irish Government this week.

The minister for agriculture, fisheries and food, Brendan Smith, this week announced a bioenergy scheme to run until 2012.

The scheme was initially launched on a pilot basis in 2007, and since then, the planting of 2,500 hectares has taken place by the end of last year.

Now a further 1m Euros is being invested in planting an additional 1000 hectares of land.

Under the scheme farmers can apply for grant to cover the start up costs of growing willow and miscanthus.

The new scheme is part of the department’s revised Rural Development Programme, which is due to be formally approved by the EU Commission later this year, according to the minister.

Mr Smith said: “The new scheme will consolidate progress made during the three years of the pilot phase in developing a biomass crops sector in Ireland.

“The scheme is now open for applications and interested farmers can apply for establishment grants of up to €1,300 per hectare to cover 50% of the costs of establishing these crops”.

The closing date for submission of applications for pre-planting approval is March 31 this year.

Luke Walsh

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