Minister Denis Naughten has stressed the importance of rural communities and bioenergy in the future of energy policy.
Speaking following a meeting with the IFA Minister Naughten said: “With plans by the ESB to burn peat in conjunction with an increased amount of biomass and wood chip in the West Offaly and Lough Ree power stations after 2019, it is important that we support local employment. So instead of importing this wood from Africa, it is vital that this biomass is grown locally to support existing jobs and supplement farmers’ incomes.”
The Minister outlined to the IFA the important role that indigenous bioenergy can play in moving to a future low-carbon energy system, while also benefiting local farmers who produce the crops.
“As Minister I will be working with Bord na Mona and Coillte to push ahead with the development of a biomass industry not only for electricity generation but also in the new growth area of renewable heat,” stated Minister Naughten.
“Later this year I will be finalising an incentive scheme for the use of biomass in the renewable heat sector which should provide a guaranteed outlet for farmers growing energy crops and for woodchip.
“Personally I want to see an energy crop that will grow on marginal land that can be grown close to the power stations in Shannonbridge and Lanesboro, and will ensure that local people are employed in the planting, harvesting and transportation of the crop.
“Not only will this generate additional income for local farmers on non-productive land, but these biomass crops hold far more water than grassland, and as a result reduce the speed with which water flows into streams and rivers, further helping to address the impact of climate change” concluded Minister Denis Naughten.