IFA Environment Chair Paul O’Brien has questioned the commitment of Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue and the Department of Agriculture to its Solar Capital Investment Scheme.
IFA is inundated with queries seeking clarity on the scheme and the wider TAMS programme.
The Department has provided little or no information to farmers on when approvals will be issued, despite Tranche 1 opening for applications in early Spring.
He said, “All farmers have heard from the Government recently is how they need to do more and change practices to meet our climate targets. Over 750 farmers applied for the Solar Capital Investment Scheme funding, demonstrating their willingness to play their part. However, we are questioning this Government’s commitment to keeping up its side of the bargain”.
“There is simply no logic to having the Solar Capital Investment Scheme sit under TAMS. We now have a situation where solar grants are being delayed because other grants within TAMS need to be decided upon. IFA requested that a separate fund be established to manage the Solar Capital Investment Scheme to avoid the very situation we now find ourselves in.”
“The lack of transparent information about the scheme and how the Department plans to manage the high level of applications raises concerns about the Government’s genuine intent to promote sustainable practices within the agricultural sector,” he said. “Farmers are in limbo regarding their ability to proceed with these solar installations. It is simply not good enough. Farmers will not react well if the Government does not step up to the plate and offer all eligible farmers who applied for this scheme the agreed upon funding,” he concluded