Pressure on for energy crop help

Pressure is building on Welsh Assembly cabinet members to fund a scheme that would encourage energy crop growing in Wales.

Unlike their counterparts in other regions of the UK, Welsh farmers do not have financial backing from a government-funded scheme.

And First Minister Rhodri Morgan has continued to refuse to create a system like the Energy Crops Scheme which is available in England.

Farmer and assembly member Mick Bates said: “I am calling for the Cabinet to use the 40m of unspent modulated receipts which were intended for agri-environment schemes, but are now gathering dust in a government piggy-bank.”

Mr Bates added that energy crops had the potential “to transform our way of life” as a cleaner, cheaper alternative to oil in communities where the use of a car is essential.

Their growth would also reduce dependence on the increasingly difficult beef and sheep markets, he insisted.

But Mr Morgan has consistently said that Wales preferred to use its modulation money on its environmental farming scheme Tir Cynnal.
Mr Morgan said his administration was putting its 13m into schemes to set up local wood-burning fuel plants instead.

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