Dáil Éireann - Volume 653 - 08 May, 2008

Written Answers. - Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he [1216] has received a submission from an association (details supplied); the action he will take to address these eight priority issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17690/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: My Department received a submission from the association in question in which they raised a number of issues in relation to growing miscanthus. These issues, some of which are not within the remit of my Department are being examined and a detailed response will issue in due course. I am eager to support the development of miscanthus in Ireland and I am making grant aid available to growers under the Bioenergy Scheme. The Scheme was introduced on a pilot basis in February 2007 and provides establishment grants of up to €1,450 per hectare. Some 700 hectares of miscanthus were planted in 2007. In September 2007, my Department met with all the stakeholders including the aforementioned association to review the operation of the Bioenergy Scheme. All stakeholders were complimentary towards the Scheme and acknowledged it had stimulated considerable interest among farmers. The second phase was launched in December 2007 and so far applications to plant a further 1,300 hectares of miscanthus have been submitted.

In addition to establishment grants, areas planted with miscanthus also qualify for the Single Farm Payment, the National Energy Crop Premium of €80 per hectare, the EU Premium of €45 per hectare under the EU Energy Crops Scheme and adjusted payments under the REPS and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.