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IFA Deputy President Tim O’Leary has issued a strong caution to farmers who are approached by solar development companies and requested to sign option agreements. He has advised them to read all details in the contract, get independent legal advice and become fully aware of any restrictions that may be imposed on their existing farming practices, before signing any contract.

Mr O’Leary warned that an adequate policy framework for solar energy development in Ireland does not currently exist. Despite this, solar development companies and some speculative individuals are trying to tie farmers into committing their lands for future solar development by requesting that they sign an option agreement, which may then legally oblige them to sign a lease agreement at a later stage.

He added, “This is a situation that the IFA is extremely concerned about and we have commenced discussions with the solar industry to develop a strategy and package of measures that safeguards host farmer entitlements and maximises the potential return to the wider rural community in the future development of renewables.”

IFA Renewables Project Team Chairman James Murphy has confirmed that further discussions are taking place with the Department of Energy in the coming days to address policy issues. Key priorities include the introduction of a feed-in-tariff which pays for the full energy generated from solar farms and an increased feed-in-tariff for roof mounted solar projects. Sub 1MW developments should be classified as permitted developments and community based renewable projects should receive grid connection priority.

IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Harold Kingston has urged Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys not to be deflected from the current review of hedge cutting dates and gorse burning dates by her Department, and to ensure a workable solution is delivered for farmers.

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IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman, Harold Kingston, has called on Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. to ensure the current review of hedge cutting dates delivers a shorter closed season.

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