Farmers should work out whether applying for the EU Energy Aid scheme is worth their while before they send off their applications forms, according to the NFU.

Ian Backhouse, vice chairman of the NFU’s combinable crops board, said: “The scheme is a good idea in theory but in practice it isn’t working.

“It is flagged up as an example of how government is supporting the bioenergy industry and 45 Euros (around £30) a hectare sounds impressive. But it doesn’t work because it’s too complicated and farmers only get a fraction of the money.
“English farmers lose out further because of the effect of modulation on the money they receive. I have decided not to make an application this year because the combined effect of these various elements mean it’s not worth doing.”
The complicated nature of the system, which often sees traders charge up to half of the aid in administrative costs, coupled with the scheme’s inclusion in England’s voluntary modulation means growing the crops is becoming less financially attractive in 2007 than previous years.

It can also affect farmers’ SPS payments if there are any problems during the application process.
It is estimated that farmers who do apply this year will probably only receive around 15 Euros (around £10) per ha.