AGRICULTURE Minister Michelle O’Neill said this week that she wanted to see more farmers embrace the potential of renewable energy resources to help support farming activities.
Speaking ahead of the first ever Anaerobic Digestion conference to be held in Northern Ireland, Minister O’Neill said: “My department supports the uptake of renewable energy in the agricultural sector through various means. These include CAFRE’s training courses and knowledge transfer events for farmers, as well as the dedicated renewable energy research programme undertaken by AFBI and funded by my department.”
Outlining her support for renewable energy technologies Minister O’Neill continued: “The production of food will always remain the primary focus of the agricultural sector, however the diversified income streams and avoided energy costs associated with renewable energy projects can only be of benefit. I want to see sustainable farm-based AD projects proposed. These should utilise the available resources of the farm efficiently and can produce energy for farm use. I want to see a focus on supporting existing farming activities.”
The minister also reminded farmers that DARD’s Biomass Processing Challenge Fund remains open. She said: “The Fund is now open for a second tranche of applications and I hope to see a diverse range of applications which will significantly enhance the utilisation of renewable technologies on-farm. I am keen to ensure that the Fund is accessible to as wide a range of agricultural interests as possible and therefore the Fund will again support a variety of technologies.”
Applications to the fund are welcome from individual farmers and groups of farmers. The Biomass Processing Challenge Fund is part of the Greenhouse Gas strategy and action plan (Efficient Farming cuts Greenhouse Gases) and the Renewable Energy Action Plan. Fund details including application forms are available for download at http://www.dardni.gov.uk/index/grants-and-funding/biomass-processing-challenge-fund.htm. All BPCF documents can be made available, on request, in alternative formats and other languages.
The BPCF is open to applications for 12 weeks from Monday 10 September 2012. No applications will be accepted after 4pm on Friday 30 November 2012.
The BPCF is managed under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for NI 2007 – 2013 and is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Priority 3 – Improving the Accessibility and Enhancing the Environment.