Alternative to Glenavy Incinerator within reach if farmers given appropriate DETI backing

CALNI Chairman Ray Clarke has called on the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to assist farmers to progress their own solutions for the disposal of poultry litter in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Clarke’s remarks come in response to an assembly question posed to Minister Foster by local SDLP MLA Thomas Burns.

Mr Burns asked Minister Foster if the same level of Government funding, estimated to be in the region of £30million from Invest NI, earmarked for the proposed Lough Neagh Incinerator, could be offered to farming co-operatives who wish to build Anaerobic Digestion plants for the disposal of poultry litter.

In response to Minister Foster’s remarks, CALNI Chairman Ray Clarke said, “The Minister’s answer side-stepped the main issue by stating that the £100million Glenavy incinerator project has yet to receive any INI funding. She stated that the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO), which merely places an obligation on electricity suppliers to source a proportion of electricity from renewable sources, was DETI’s main mechanism for incentivising the type of renewable electricity generation proposed by Mr Burns.

“It simply beggars belief that the government are considering offering Moy Park tens of millions of pounds in attempt to address the poultry litter issue when a truly credible, cost-effective and proven means to do so lies within reach of local, Northern Irish farmers.”

“Minister Foster confirmed in her answer that electricity generated by the anaerobic digestion of biomass is eligible to claim ROCs. This means anaerobic digestion not only offers an opportunity to address the poultry litter issue but also a chance to support Northern Irish farmers, engender local enterprise and put the region’s energy future in the hands of local communities and not international corporations.

Mr. Clarke concluded, “We’re asking the Minister to take another look at this issue and simply consider the facts. DETI’s current course will result in further support for international multinationals at the expense of local, indigenous farming cooperatives, capable of creating greater economic and socioeconomic wellbeing right here in Northern Ireland. Within the current economic climate such a move is inexcusable.

“We have no doubt an alternative to the incinerator at Glenavy is within reach if the Minister chooses to make the same levels of funding available to local farming cooperatives looking to the area of anaerobic digestion or other alternative energy solutions”.

Assembly Question:

Anaerobic Digestion Plants
Mr T Burns asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment whether the same level of grant support could be offered to farming co-operatives who wish to build Anaerobic Digestion plants for the disposal of poultry litter as an alternative to the proposed Lough Neagh Incinerator, thus safeguarding the future of the poultry industry and supporting farmers who invest in renewable energy projects.

(AQW 5018/11)

Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Mrs A Foster): In terms of assistance with the installation of Anaerobic Digestion Plants in farming co-operatives, the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO) is my Department’s main mechanism for incentivising renewable electricity generation. The NIRO is not a grant, but instead places an obligation on electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of electricity from renewable sources. Once accredited under the NIRO, a generating station, which could be operated by a farming co-operative, would receive Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) for the electricity generated which can then be sold to electricity suppliers. Electricity generated from gas formed by the anaerobic digestion of biomass is eligible to claim ROCs.
In respect of the proposed waste to energy plant at Lough Neagh, no financial assistance has been offered to this project to date and it is currently subject to an ongoing due diligence process.

ENDS
For further information contact Sheila Davidson at CALNI on 07785 793 672
or
Nick Bell at Strategic Planning 07918 628606 nickbell@strategicplanning.uk.com

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