Tag Archive for 'Farming'

Grant given to local Energy storage scheme

DDFFRE and David Surplus from B9 meet with Cllr Cadogan Enright over a new energy storage project fund worth up to a possible £450,000 for the Lecale area.

DDFFRE and David Surplus from B9 meet with Cllr Cadogan Enright over a new energy storage project fund worth up to a possible £450,000 for the Lecale area.

Councillor Enright organised a joint funding application between energy company B9 representative David Surplus and the local farmers co-operative Down District Farmers for renewable energy. The grant is aimed at creating a ‘micro-grid’ in the Lecale area which will enable farmers to connect to the national grid without the massive charges they currently face of up to £450,000 for a connection. This will make the Lecale area the first project of its kind in Britain and Ireland.

Planning office criticised 10th Oct 2012

Planning office refuses to meet Ulster Farmers Union and fails to hold the disputed planning decisions until meeting with UFU is made

Minister supports Farmers on Wind Turbines Oct 2012

Minister for Environment backs Lecale Farmers wind turbine campaign

Picture shows DDFFRE (Down District Farmers For Renewable Energy) at their inaugral meeting in Denvirs Hotel organised by Cllr Cadogan Enright

Farmers criticise planners over delays 31st Oct 2012

Farmers highlight 83% positive planning decisions for wind turbines across NI, but on 17% approved in Down District in 2010 (and it is now 2013)

DECEMBER PRESENTATION BY LOCAL FARMERS TO JOHN MCCALLISTER

John McCallister at DDC’s new HQ surrounded by localal farmers accompanied by Cllrs Des Patterson and Robert Burgess. Elliot Bell of the UFU is on far right.

John McCallister at DDC’s new HQ surrounded by localal farmers accompanied by Cllrs Des Patterson and Robert Burgess. Elliot Bell of the UFU is on far right.

A large number of local farmers gathered to meet John McCallister and local UUP councilors at Down District Councils new headquarters on the Ardglass Road. The UFU-backed ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’ had also invited Elliot Bell of the UFU to the meeting.

The main business of the meeting was to make a presentation on the Agri-Business opportunities arising from renewable energy in Northern Ireland, with one £ in every 20 now spent on energy in the local economy.

Chairperson Alan Montgomery of Bright expressed thanks to John McCallister for making time to come and listen to the problems of local farmers across a wide swathe of Down District. Alan highlighted bills assembled by local farmers both now and 10 years ago.

Alan said “Diesel is now 70p, but was 19.2p ten years ago. Electricity is now 17p per unit but ten years ago was 9p. Farming is under huge pressure on cost from the UK multiples, and spiraling energy costs are damaging what is both NI’s and Down Districts biggest industry.”

John Trainor of Ballykinlar said “Farmers from Lecale to Drumsnade see this issue as both a major problem and our biggest opportunity. £1.1 billion per annum is spent on energy in NI with most of this going to corrupt foreign regimes or the taxman in Westminster. We have to change and we need politicians to help us help ourselves by removing obstacles preventing us achieving the inevitable low-carbon economy of the future”.

The meeting highlighted for John McCallister and his team the different forms of economic discrimination being encounter by farmers in South East Down. Examples given included the new All-Island Grid being upgrading in the 3 Western Counties of NI but hardly at all in South Down leaving local farmers unable to participate in NI’s greatest opportunity in modern times and the local planning office creating obstacles and delaying planning application 2/3 years rather than the 4/6 months as in the rest of the province.

Pat Magee of Ballyhornan said “Locally, most favorable planning decisions seem to be for developers rather than for farmers who normally have a real need for on-farm energy consumption as well export to the grid. Many of us described the size and nature of our energy bills to John as our local MLA varying from £11,000 pa up £32,000 pa

John McCallister noted with concern that a further £44 million in grid re-enforcement had just been allowed for the West of the province this week and that once again South Down had been forgotten and pledged to tackle this in Stormont and to assist local farmers with their planning issues.

LECALE FARMERS SEEK MEETING WITH MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE

January Meeting with from the left Alan Montgomery Chairperson, Chris Hazzard MLA and Cllr Stephen Burns Down SF leader flanked by local farmers

January Meeting with from the left Alan Montgomery Chairperson, Chris Hazzard MLA and Cllr Stephen Burns Down SF leader flanked by local farmers

Down District Sinn Fein leader Cllr Stephen Burns arranged a meeting for MLA Chris Hazzard at Down District Council this week at the new headquarters on the Ardglass Road with the Ulster Farmers Union-backed ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’.

The meeting focused on Economic opportunities in rural development though diversification and reducing farm costs though developing on-farm energy resources.

Chairperson Alan Montgomery of Killough opened the meeting by expressing thanks to MLA Chris Hazzard for making time to come and listen to the problems of local farmers across a wide swathe of Down District. Chris Hazzard is a member of the Agricultural Committee at Stormont.

Local farmers highlighted rising costs of energy, and how they were under pressure to reduce their ‘carbon footprint’ from the big UK retail multiples that buy their produce. However they were unable to get connection to the electricity grid as South Down is being left out of the overall drive to upgrade the grid across N.I. under the ‘Single Market’ programme and requested Chris Hazzard to facilitate meetings with NIE.

MLA Chris Hazzard said “I will be asking questions in Stormont as to why the South Down area is being left out of the grid development programme. This has serious implications for the development of both Agriculture and Commerce generally in South Down. This focus on development in other parts of N.Ireland at our expense is mirrored in our roads infrastructure. I attended meeting in London recently, and prospective developers were able to tell me about the lack of a Ballynahinch by-pass, the A5 and point up chronic traffic problems in Downpatrick. We need a new approach to development in South Down, we have been fobbed off for too long”

Cllr Stephen Burns said “Sinn Fein will be having a meeting with planners at Rathkelter House in the near future, and will address the issues raised by local farmers. It is not acceptable for senior planners to refuse to meet local farming leaders and Sinn Fein will vigorously pursue this matter.”

MLA Chris Hazzard said “DDFFRE farmers have some exciting ideas in the area of energy storage and distribution, and I would encourage this group to apply to the both DARD rural development funds and to the East Boarder Region group as their ideas are clearly important to the development of the all-Island grid.  I also intend to organize a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Michelle O’Neill with these enterprising Lecale farmers. They deserve our support.”

LOCAL FARMERS EXPLORE NEW FARM-SCALE TECHNOLOGIES

Councillor Cadogan Enright and B9 MD David Surplus with a group of farmers from Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy pictured at their monthly meeting in Downpatrock Cricket Club.

Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy (DDFFRE) invited David Surplus, MD of B9 Energy’s anaerobic digestion company to visit them at their monthly recent meeting in Downpatrick Cricket Club last Thursday night.

At a meeting chaired by local Councillor Cadogan Enright, They discussed the potential for co-operation around the development of renewable energy projects an in anaerobic digestion in particular . Cllr Enright explained “anaerobic digestion is a processes where micro-organisms digest biodegradable material in in a sealed container to release energy. Much of the fermentation used industrially to produce food and drink products use forms of anaerobic digestion. Silage is produced by anaerobic digestion”.

David Surplus pointed out “B9 is already involved in landfill gas at Down Councils’  Drumnakelly site,  and based on the new anaerobic digestion plant being constructed in Dungannon, we are interested in farm scale projects utilising resources such as cattle and pig slurry together with excess silage to generate combined heat and power”.

David Surplus said; “South Down has not been as quick as other areas of the province to embrace AD in dealing with agricultural waste streams while deriving income from selling heat and power. Animal slurries could support up to 150 farm scale AD plants in the Province making a significant contribution to our renewable energy targets and reducing our over-reliance on imported fossil fuels”.

Micheal Trainor of Bishopscourt said “Recent demonstration has shown that when digestive left over from the AD process is spread on farm land there is a 35% increase in grass yields above the use of raw slurries due to the entrained nitrogen being in a form that is more easily absorbed. Weed seeds are also digested so that there is less need to use expensive imported herbicides which is important to me as an organic farmer.”

After dealing with normal business, the meeting supported a resolution from Alan Montgomery of Killough to follow up on this high tech way of dealing with farm waste to create new income sources for farming, reduce the danger of pollution from run-off, save money on herbicides and produce better grass and other crops. DDFFRE resolved to explore this technology more thoroughly at future meetings in the new year.

LOCAL FARMERS PREPARE FOR VISIT TO MINISTER ATTWOOD

Meeting in Denvirs Hotel to found 'Down District Farmers For Renewable Energy"

Meeting in Denvirs Hotel to found 'Down District Farmers For Renewable Energy"

A large number of local farmers gathered for a meeting last Tuesday in Denvirs Hotel for the inaugural meeting of a new farmer’s organization.  Elliot Bell of the UFU and Cllr Cadogan Enright were invited guests to provide technical advice. ‘Down District Farmers for Renewable Energy’ was formed following several years of campaigning to be allowed to diversify their businesses into renewable energy in the face of considerable difficulties with the planning service and the electricity grid since 2007 and before.

The main business was the upcoming visit to Minster Attwood, facilitated by local MP Margaret Ritche.

Chairperson James Carson of Tyrella expressed gratitude for the ongoing support of Ms Ritchie to some of the farmers at the meeting, and for the historical opposition of herself and Eddy McGrady to nuclear power at Sellafield. Other local politicians from Sinn Fein and the UUP had also been supportive.

The meeting discussed problems encountered with many local renewable energy projects, and resolved to inform the Minister that the local planning office was “not fit for purpose”.

PRO Nial Montgomery from Killough pointed out that even where the planning guidelines indicated that a particular site was ideal for wind energy, poor management of the planning process turned a 3 month application into a 3+ year application for local farmers.

Pat Magee of Ballyhornan said “The government is now proposing to spend billions of pounds creating a massive wind development offshore from our farms at huge expense to the taxpayer. None of the revenues from the offshore development will stay in the local area. On-shore wind energy is not only much cheaper, but all revenues arising from on-farm turbines stay in the local area, helping to diversify local farming and keeping family farms intact for the future.”

Cllr Cadogan Enright led a workshop to assemble the issues in a manner suitable for presentation to the Minister. Cllr Enright observed that “Down District farmers are selling to big UK supermarkets. They have to demonstrate how their carbon footprint satisfies British climate change legislation in order to keep their existing markets for meat, milk and cereals. Not being able to generate green power damages employment.”

“The agri-food business in NI is the biggest employer in the province, and across Ireland as a whole. We have to be allowed to reduce our costs in line with our competitors, not just for on-farm employment, but for the many more jobs that exist downstream from the farm” concluded Nial Montgomery