Dáil Éireann - Volume 651 - 08 April, 2008
Written Answers. - Alternative Farm Enterprises.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the total area dedicated to growing bio-energy crops; the growth in this regard in the past five years; the projections for the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13273/08]
Deputy Mary Coughlan Deputy Mary Coughlan
Deputy Mary Coughlan: Over the past five years, the area devoted to energy crops has increased from 137 hectares in 2003 to just over 9,000 hectares in 2007. The table highlights the upward trend since 2003.
The increase in area is due to a number of factors including the buoyant bio-fuels market, growing demand for biomass feedstock and the introduction of incentives to encourage cultivation of energy crops. The incentives include a new National Energy Crops Premium worth €80 per hectare and a Bioenergy Scheme offering establishment grants of €1,450 per hectare to grow miscanthus and willow. Other available incentives include the EU Energy Crops premium of €45 per hectare and the Single Farm Payment on areas planted with energy crops. These incentives are intended to complement the measures introduced by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to stimulate demand for bioenergy, most notably the €200m excise relief scheme.
The future outlook for energy crops depends on a number of factors, not least profitability at farm level and the relative returns for food, feed or bio-fuel. More long-term projections are difficult to forecast at this stage. Much will depend on the rate of development of production and consumption patterns for bio-fuels over the next number of years.
Dáil Éireann 651 Written Answers. Alternative Farm Enterprises.