LOUTH Leader Partnership, the body that promotes local industry, has approved funding of €200,000 to Mr Tony McGuinness to construct a willow drying and processing plant at his farm at Richardstown Ardee.
The funding comes under the Rural Development Programme and the move has been welcomed by Fergus O’Dowd Minister of State for the NewEra Prioject.
This sustainable facility will see contract drying of willow crops produced on Mr McGuinness’s land and is the first of its kind in the county.
It will also process these crops to enable them to be used directly as a fuel in commercial, industrial and domestic boilers, as well as in the production of briquettes and fire-logs.
“This project has enormous potential to provide much-needed additional income for tillage farmers in the county,” Deputy Fergus O’Dowd said.
“There is a huge under-capacity of willow processing in the country as a whole, and this has meant that farmers are selling their product to low-value markets such as electricity-generating plants.
“The fact that we will have processing facilities on our doorstep will mean that we can take further steps towards meeting our renewable energy targets.
“The estimated total project cost is €482,400, and the funding is being provided under the Diversification into Non-Agricultural Activities measure of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.
‘’It is great news that I am delighted that the Rural Development Programme, through my Ministerial colleague Minister Hogan, is in a position to support Mr McGuinness in this endeavour.
‘’This project will now go back to the Board of Louth Leader Partnership for final approval. This is in line with the EU’s ‘’bottom-up’’ approach to rural development’’.
“The LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme offer many challenges and opportunities in terms of addressing the needs and improving the quality of life in rural areas.
“These include providing greater opportunities for farm diversification.
“It is focused on the development of micro-enterprises, rural services, rural recreation and rural tourism.
“It is hoped that, by focusing on these services, the Programme will lead to sustainable development, which in turn will ensure prosperity for the rural area.”
€200,000 funding under the Rural Development Programme approved for the construction of a dedicated willow drying and processing facility at Richardstown, Dunleer, Co. Louth.
Mr Phil Hogan, Minister for the Environment said he is delighted that the Rural Development Programme is in a position to support Mr McGuinness in this endeavour, which will be the first dedicated willow drying and processing facility to be built in Co. Louth. The project has enormous potential to provide a much-needed additional income source for tillage farmers in Co. Louth who are currently growing energy crops or are considering doing so, as the under-capacity in willow processing in the country at present is resulting in the product being sold to low-value fuel outlets such as electricity-generating plants.