Ferris gives qualified support for Energy Crop Scheme
The Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD, has given his qualified support for a new grant scheme to promote the growing of energy crops. The scheme, announced by Minister Mary Coughlan, will provide funding for persons who wish to grow elephant grass and willow as inputs into the production of bio fuels.
The Kerry North TD said: "Given the urgent necessity of developing the energy crop sector in this country, I very much welcome the introduction of any new grant schemes that will encourage people to plant such crops and especially to cut down on the initial outlay for first planting.
"However, as the Minister herself states, only €8m will be given in grants over the next two years which is indicative of the current low level of uptake due to the perception among farmers that there is little economic incentive. As I have said previously, decoupling has opened up the possibility of using large amounts of land for this purpose so it is vital that the right grant structure is in place. Sinn Féin has proposed that this be set at approximately 3 times the current level of €42 per hectare.
"Unless the growing of energy crops, and the processing of them, is carried out on a large scale in this country we will simply substitute dependence on fossil fuel imports for a new dependency on the importation of renewables. While this would still be an environmental good, it would be a tragedy from the point of view of domestic agriculture and industry."