A PROPOSAL to Government to give farmers a tax break to establish 6,000 windmills over the next three years has been made by the Irish Farmers' Association.
IFA president Padraig Walshe said that if the Government accepted the proposal, it could create 100 permanent jobs and cut fuel imports.
"To encourage farmers to make the investment in micro energy generation on-farm, IFA is proposing that there should be double capital allowance tax relief up to a maximum investment of €50,000 per farmer in micro energy," he said.
"Initially IFA is seeking this taxation relief on 6,000 installations over three years.
"Planning restrictions are delaying the roll-out of wind farms and other renewable energy generating projects. IFA is proposing a range of reforms in planning regulations for micro-generation," he said.
"The electricity load restrictions and connection difficulties are further barriers to alternative energy sources.
"To encourage the development of the micro industry, and allow farmers a return on the investment, a special renewable energy feed-in tariff support for micro energy must be put in place, together with 'smart metering' technologies," Mr Walshe said yesterday.
He added that the plan put forward to Government on Tuesday last had the support of the Electricity Supply Board, but he did not know how it would react to what was being proposed.
He said that the farming sector was prepared to take a constructive approach with Government to reducing greenhouse gases, but that the IFA was totally opposed to any forced cutbacks in production.
The IFA president said that to achieve the greenhouse gas reduction targets, all three farm-based sources of renewable energy must be fully developed: micro-generation of electricity, the use of energy crops to produce fuel and power, and the role of forestry as a carbon sink.
He told a press conference that as regards forestry, a key objective of the Government must be to regulate at EU level to have the role of forest sinks fully recognised.
Tom Bean of Country Power, which worked with the IFA to prepare the submission, said with the State's carbon emissions soaring and Ireland's continuing over-dependence on imported fossil fuels, micro-generation was a totally untapped potential for Ireland and was an opportunity to unlock huge economic and environmental benefits.
The plan is based on 15-kilowatt windmills which cost between €30,000 and €60,000 to install.
The Irish Times