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Minister Wallace announces second phase of Bio-Energy Scheme

Mary Wallace T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, with special responsibility for Forestry today announced the introduction of the second phase of the Bioenergy Scheme offering establishment grants to farmers to plant willow and miscanthus for bioenergy purposes. Miscanthus and willow are biomass crops, which can be converted into renewable fuel to generate heat and electricity.

The Bioenergy Scheme was launched on a pilot basis in February '07 and generated sizeable interest from the farming community with some 800 hectares of miscanthus and willow being planted.

Launching the latest phase, Minister Wallace said, "The Bioenergy Scheme (2008) will support the planting of up to 1,600 hectares of miscanthus and willow by providing establishment grants to farmers for up to 50% of establishment costs, subject to a maximum grant of €1,450 per hectare. The Minister added that in addition to establishment grants, she was pleased to confirm that, "areas planted with miscanthus and willow can qualify for an EU Energy Crops premium, the National Energy Crop premium of €80 per hectare and adjusted payments under the REPS and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, subject to certain conditions on the areas planted".

Minister Wallace said that the closing date for receipt of applications under the Bioenergy Scheme is Friday, 29th of February 2008. Details of the Scheme, and application forms can be obtained from Biofuels Policy Unit, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kea-Lew Business Park, Mountrath Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Telephone 057-8692231 or at www.agriculture.gov.ie.

19 December, 2007

Note to Editors

The Bioenergy Scheme operates under Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003, as amended, which authorises the payment of national aid to establish miscanthus and willow crops for bioenergy purposes. Establishment grants are payments to cover part of the costs of establishment. Eligible costs include those associated with ground preparation, fencing, vegetation control, the purchase of planting stock and planting.

Date Released: 19 December 2007