6 DECEMBER 2017
ICSA has met with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Mr Denis Naughten to make the case for renewable energy policies that could transform the outlook for farmers. ICSA president Patrick Kent said: “It is high time that we turn climate change targets into opportunities for farmers. Instead of the negativity, we could make agriculture part of the solution to climate change targets. However, this requires coherent Government support for national decisions and EU policies which drive renewable energy production from sustainable European farming strategies.”
Mr Kent said that ICSA pushed Minister Naughten to strongly oppose the slashing of the 7% biofuel mandate at the December Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels. ICSA also insisted that the Government should support anaerobic digestion and small scale, roof top solar energy in the Renewable Heat Incentive and Renewable Electricity Support Scheme.
“ICSA has been campaigning against the absurd EU proposals in the Renewable Energy Directive reform which would completely sabotage European farmers who sell over €6 billion worth of crops to biofuel plants in Europe. The loss of this outlet would further undermine EU cereal prices and cause the loss of vital GM free protein animal feeds which are a by-product of biofuel production in Europe. In any event, Ireland needs to have more not less biofuels in the fuel mix if we are to have any hope of meeting climate change targets and in order to avoid even more severe obligations on livestock emissions.”
“ICSA has also been campaigning to make anaerobic digestion a reality in many counties. Apart from the potential to sell energy and to make farms more viable, anaerobic digestion can reduce slurry spreading problems, reduce dependence on fertiliser imports and lower emissions.”
“ICSA also called for roof top solar on farm sheds to get a ring fenced piece of the renewable electricity pie. Some farms have significant electricity consumption patterns but they need to sell surplus to the grid.”
“All of these policies would mark a coherent response to the climate change challenge and more importantly lower the risk of climate change fines for this country. Furthermore, at a time when many farms are struggling for viability due to exploitation in food markets, we must deliver other income possibilities to farmers.”
The ICSA delegation also included general secretary Eddie Punch and rural development chairman Seamus Sherlock. “ICSA was satisfied with the engagement with Minister Naughten particularly with imminent decisions on the renewable heat incentive, further consideration of the renewable electricity support scheme and the crunch phase of the EU biofuel package. We are hopeful that he has been listening to the ICSA view.”