10 May 2002

ENERGY CROPS SCHEME England only

THE ECS provides support for the establishment of short rotation coppice (SRC) and Miscanthus (elephant grass) and for setting up producer groups. The aim of the scheme is to assist in achieving the governments renewable energy targets.

Eligibility

Agreements run for five years and the following rules apply:

&#8226 Any agricultural or non-agricultural land is eligible (but not common land or land already planted to trees or energy crops).

&#8226 Aid will be limited to land within a certain radius of energy projects (10 miles for small-scale projects, usually 25 miles for larger projects, but this is negotiable).

&#8226 Minimum application size is 3ha. Individual plots may be less.

&#8226 An end use for the crop must have been secured (letter of intent, supply contract or

planning permission if own use).

&#8226 The deadline for applications is Jun 30 each year.

&#8226 Payment rates: Miscanthus – £920/ha; SRC land type 1 (previously claimed as forage area) – £1600/ha; SRC land type 2 (all other eligible land) – £1000/ha.

Land in ECS cannot also be entered in to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme or be combined with a grant under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme/ Woodland Grant Scheme. Prov-iding the conditions for set-aside are met, land planted to energy crops can receive set-aside payments under the AAPS (in addition to the planting grant).

Establishing producer groups

Grants of up to 50% (max £200,000) will be available for legal costs in forming the group, office accommodation, office equipment, IT equipment, recruitment costs and planting and harvesting machinery. Grants are only available for groups producing SRC (willow and poplar) not Miscanthus. Applicants will be expected to sign up for an agreement of five years.

Energy crops in Wales

Energy crops in Wales are to be supported under the Farm Enterprise Grant Scheme.

Applications

All applications for the English Energy Crops Scheme are being dealt with by the DEFRA North West Region Rural Development Service, Electra Way, Crewe CW1 6GJ.

Tel: 01270-754012.

Miscanthus is gaining attention.