Willow to qualify for REPS payments

PAYMENTS under the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) will apply to the planting of willow and miscanthus, Agriculture and Food Minister Mary Coughlan has announced.

She said the payments will apply up to a maximum area on REPS holdings of 10 hectares or 25%, whichever is the greater. Under the Bio-energy Scheme, the maximum hectarage cannot exceed 20 hectares per applicant.

On the REPS area, farmers growing willow or miscanthus can receive a bio-energy establishment grant (€1,450 per hectare), the EU €45 per hectare energy premium, a national €80 per hectare payment and an adjusted REPS 3 payment of €155 per hectare. Under REPS 4 this payment will increase to €189 per hectare.

She said the €80 national payment is available as a top-up to the EU energy premium. It is subject to a maximum ceiling per producer, currently 37.5 hectares per applicant over per annum for three years.

Ms Coughlan said areas planted under willow and miscanthus also qualify for the single payment scheme.

She said she recognised that the costs involved in establishing willow and miscanthus were significant.

IFA Alternative Land Use Project team leader JJ Kavanagh welcomed the minister’s move to secure REPS payments on multi-annual crops such as miscanthus and willows but said an anomaly regarding the disadvantaged area payments still needs to be addressed.

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