A greener start to the year with the 2012 bioenergy scheme for willow and miscanthus

The launch of the 2012 Bioenergy Scheme was announced by Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the scheme grants aid toward the planting of Willow and Miscanthus crops as part of the re-opening of a range of Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Measures.

The Bioenergy Scheme has been providing support to the planting of over 3,000 hectares of energy crops since 2007.

“The 2012 scheme will consolidate the progress made since 2007 in developing the energy crops sector in Ireland and has the potential to support in the region of 1,400 additional hectares in 2012.”  During the announcement of the 2012 Scheme, the Minister said.

He further explained. “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”.

“I have decided to amend the terms and conditions of the scheme so that participants are no longer required to maintain the crop for seven years as a condition of receiving grant-aid.” As stated by Minister Coveney

He furthermore clarified. “I think that the removal of this condition should help to make the scheme more attractive to farmers without reducing their commitment to establishing and properly managing the crop once they make the planting investment. Taken together with the anticipated boost to demand from the proposed REFIT tariffs for biomass, I am confident that the scheme in 2012 will lead to increased interest from farmers who wish to become involved in energy crop production”.

The closing date for the submission of applications for the pre-planting approval was Wednesday 18th January 2012.

The Department of Agriculture’s website provide complete details of the scheme; however all proposed planting must receive prior written pre-planting approval from the Department.

Details that need to be given attention are that all applications will be arranged by already existent farming systems, the suitability of the proposed sites, particularly, proof  that displays the applicant has linkages with end-users to utilize the biomass crop as a source of bioenergy, as in the current climate it is essential to have a suitable market with guaranteed returns.

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