Land based sector must be consulted on NI AD policy, says UFU

The Ulster Farmers’ Union attended the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) Northern Ireland Forum in Belfast last week, reiterating the potential of biomethane locally.

Deputy president, John McLenaghan, gave a presentation at the event providing detail on the benefits of aerobic digestion and digestate in farming systems, and the importance of land-based sectors being involved in policy development.

Speaking after the forum, UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “Anaerobic digestion in NI provides a solution to the ongoing trilemma faced by environment/land use and energy policy changes.

“The UFU previously commented on the potential for biomethane in NI. However, it needs to be stressed that due to livestock farming being best suited to the local landscape, the focus needs to shift to encourage livestock farmers to recognise the benefits of biomethane production. This includes reduced carbon footprint and reliance on conventional manufactured fertilisers which would have economic gains as energy prices continue to rise.

“Despite the advantages of biomethane, several barriers remain preventing more farmers from developing into the production of the green energy source such as grid connection issues and significant upfront capital costs that need to be addressed. We’ve been informed that a Steering Group has been set up to drive policy for anaerobic digestion in NI, yet key stakeholders, including the UFU, have not been included. Our involvement from the outset is imperative to getting a fitting policy in place that will work for the land-based sectors, particularly livestock farming, and we urge DAERA to take this request on board.”