IFA President Eddie Downey has led a delegation to meet with Minister Pat Rabbitte during which a wide range of issues were discussed, including the urgent need for a national energy plan and strengthening wind and biomass energy policy to protect rural communities and provide an alternative income stream for farmers. IFA also called for a review of EirGrid’s extensive electricity infrastructure proposals and a robust rural broadband scheme which provides a world-class service for all rural homes and businesses.
Mr. Downey said “Farm families across the country are concerned by proposals to develop several energy projects such as hydraulic fracking, wind and electricity infrastructure. Farming has a clear sustainable plan for the sector called Food Harvest 2020. However, energy policy in Ireland is disjointed and often developer-lead”.
“I welcome Minister Rabbitte’s commitment to publish an energy green paper and develop a National Energy Plan. Farm families and rural communities deserve clarity. We must know where energy policy is going in this country.”
On biomass, the IFA has called for a robust strategy which provides supports in line with other EU countries. “The forthcoming biomass strategy to be published by Minister Rabbitte must incentivise farmers adequately and provide a secure demand for biomass. This can be achieved immediately if Government commits that a defined percentage of all fuels used in public buildings are sourced from indigenous biomass sources.”
IFA has called for a full cost-benefit analysis of undergrounding versus over-grounding of power lines, by the Expert Panel currently reviewing electricity projects proposed by EirGrid. “The cost-benefit analysis must fully examine the impact on farming, farmland rural communities and tourism.”
The Association has welcomed the commitment given by Minister Rabbitte to provide State funding to support the delivery of a high-quality broadband network for rural Ireland. “Every house and business in the countryside must have the option of receiving a cost-effective top class fibre-based broadband service.”