THE 2011 bioenergy scheme will be formally announced in the coming weeks, JHM Crops, based in Adare, Co Limerick, has claimed following discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
In previous years the scheme was announced in the month of January with planting approvals not finalised until April.
The scheme, which covers establishment grants for the planting of miscanthus and willow, will be processed much earlier for the coming year’s planting season.
Application forms will be available in early October, with a closing date of mid-November. It is proposed to provide planting approval before the end of December.
JHM, the market leader in miscanthus, had sought adjustments to the scheme to facilitate earlier planting of the crops in the spring.
This could only be achieved by moving the application process to the autumn.
Its managing director Joe Hogan said: “From our experience, the earlier that ground preparation for planting can begin, the more successful the establishment of the crop.
“We are very pleased the Department of Agriculture has agreed to bring forward the dates for the bioenergy scheme to allow adequate time for ground preparation.”
Mr Hogan said there is now massive demand for biomass in the Irish energy sector, with commitments made by both the ESB and Bord na Móna.
However, he criticised Energy Minister Eamon Ryan for slowing down the growth of the renewable sector.
“After several months of lobbying, the new REFIT was finally announced on May 24, bringing some certainty to the market,” he said.
“We are now heading into a new planting season and getting great assistance from the Department of Agriculture to improve the efficiency of the scheme. Yet the Green Party Energy Minister has yet to implement the REFIT he announced five months ago,” he added, calling on him to implement it immediately.
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