A THREE-YEAR wood energy project launched at the national ploughing championships yesterday has the potential to create up to 1,000 jobs in rural areas.
Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Éamon O Cuív also said the Western Development Commission initiative has the potential to generate an extra €15 million per annum.
The project is funded under the EU INTERREG Northern Periphery Programme to roll out a renewable energy support programme for rural communities.
Mr O Cuív said the western region’s wood resources present major new business and job opportunities. Research has already shown the west could develop an indigenous, sustainable, renewable energy resource delivering 11% of the region’s heat needs by 2020.
“Importantly, it has the potential to provide <€1.7 million each year to the west’s farming sector.
“The jobs created would be spread across the entire supply chain and everyone involved would benefit, such as private forest owners, haulage companies, plumbers, engineering companies and electricians.
“It is great to see a project with such wide-ranging benefits to all sectors of the community,” he said.
During his visit, the minister also launched a report on the social cost-benefit analysis of the Rural Social Scheme, which sets out what has been achieved by the scheme since its launch in May 2004.
Mr O Cuív also launched Cairde Muintir na Tire, a national fundraising campaign to support Muintir’s community development and community alert programmes.
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