President of ICMSA Pat McCormack with Minister Naughton
The President of ICMSA said that he was encouraged and reassured by the policy direction on energy renewables signalled by the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Environment at a meeting last week.
Commenting after a detailed meeting with Minister Naughten, Pat McCormack said that farm-based renewable energy initiatives have the potential to not only to play a significant role in meeting Ireland’s renewable targets, but also to make a massive overall contribution to rural development while helping to preserve the family farm structure which is under ongoing threat.
“We stressed to the Minister that Government supports need to be targeted and directed at farm and community-based initiatives so that the economic benefits actually make a real difference to rural areas and are not simply diverted into the income streams of very large commercial entities - which is precisely where the vast bulk of those supports have gone so far.
“We’re satisfied that Minister Naughten understands that the present system is completely skewed towards supporting commercial entities that don’t actually need or deserve the support and that we need to make the supports and incentives farm and rural community orientated.
“The Minister also indicated that he will ‘take on board’ the issue of grid connections so that projects requiring grid connection are not unnecessarily held up”, confirmed the ICMSA President.
“This is a double-benefit for Ireland in that it developing renewables at farm level can play a positive role in addressing our obligations on climate-change as well benefitting farms and rural communities.
“We’re convinced that developing farm-orientated renewables and climate-focussed agri-environment schemes should be the focus of our efforts to make our sector as climate efficient as possible and should be available to all farmers”, continued Mr McCormack
The meeting also covered the issues of rural dumping, broadband and postal services with the Minister issuing a clarification in relation to landowners and illegal dumping and repeating his his commitment to delivering broadband to rural areas.