James Murphy, IFA South Leinster Chairman and Renewables Project Team Leader, has confirmed that discussions have commenced with the Department of Agriculture to progress the case that farmers who have solar projects on their land and also farm the land should be able to draw down the annual basic payment.
“Farmers right across the country are currently being approached by solar development companies and requested to sign various contracts such as exclusivity agreements, grid connection contracts and option agreements, despite that fact that a tariff for solar energy production is not in place nor is there clarity on the eligibility of lands used for solar energy production for basic payment.”
IFA continues to lobby for a realistic tariff, community ownership of renewable projects and confirmation by the Department of Agriculture of the eligibility of lands for basic payment.
“The strongest possible case exists for lands that are used for solar energy production to be eligible for basic payment. Up to 90% of the lands under solar can be grazed and similarly 90% of the sward growth takes place, making the lands suitable for farming.”
The agriculture sector has an important role to play in the addressing the climate challenge and assisting Ireland to deliver its renewable energy obligations. It is important that all road blocks such as eligibility of lands for basic payment are removed and an adequate tariff price is introduced. This will maximise the potential of the sector to meet the targets.