5 Oktober 2006

Miscanthus planting still supported

After a successful meeting in Brussels, the NFU is very optimistic that the EU will not change its attitude to funding the planting of the new and exciting energy crop, miscanthus.

The NFU’s team in Brussels requested a meeting with the Commission after initial proposals ruled out future support payments for miscanthus plantings due to clashes with WTO rules. Any change would have resulted in the loss of future planting support payments for farmers who want to grow miscanthus which would have obvious knock-on effects for the UK’s developing bioenergy industry.

However, the NFU is pleased the Commission has decided not to change the existing set up in the new regulation. As part of the new English rural development programmes, due to start in January, the new regulation allows monies to be paid to multiannual crops, such as miscanthus. This will come from monies dedicated to improving the “competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector”. It is hoped the entire text of the implementing rules for the next rural development programmes will be agreed in October.

Peter Kendall, NFU president, who attended the meeting said: “This is a really sensible decision by the Commission to help farmers participate in the provision of renewable energy. The previous situation was ludicrous and the NFU has worked hard, along with other organisations, to get this changed.”

Paul Carver, technical director for Bical (Biomass Industrial Crops Ltd) in Devon, said: “Miscanthus is the most sought after energy crop, both by power stations and farmers. It is pleasing that the Commission have recognised this fact and have now placed it back at the forefront of both energy crop and biofuel demand.”

(Cf. news of April 24, 2006.)

Source: National Farmers' Union Oct. 02, 2006.

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