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    Applications Open for New Energy Crops Scheme
01/10/07

From today, farmers will be able to apply for the new Energy Crops Scheme, although no grant agreements will be offered until the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-2013 (RDPE) has been approved by the European Commission.

energy crop

The scheme has been opened for applications only to enable growers to begin the appraisal process, which can take three months, and plan for spring planting. No work may be undertaken in connection with any application until a funding offer is received and accepted by a grower.

The Energy Crops Scheme will provide funding for growers to establish the perennial energy crops miscanthus and short rotation coppice (SRC) of willow and other native or naturalised species to produce renewable energy. These crops are burnt to create energy and heat after harvesting, with the carbon released close to the amount absorbed by the growing crop.

Such crops can reduce dependence on fossil fuels, cut greenhouse gas emissions and also boost the rural economy, provided expansion is conducted in a sustainable way. An individual environmental appraisal, conducted as part of the application procedure, should ensure that biodiversity concerns and other environmental aspects are checked before agreements are made.

The Energy Crops Scheme will be part of the new RDPE, and will be delivered by Natural England. Establishment grants are currently proposed at £1,000 per hectare for SRC and £800 per hectare for miscanthus, although these rates cannot be confirmed until the programme is approved by the European Commission and may be subject to downward revision. We are working to get formal Programme approval before the end of 2007. The Programme will then be fully implemented at the earliest opportunity.

Details about the scheme and application procedure can be found on Natural England’s website at www.naturalengland.org.uk Growers should not undertake or commit to any works until they receive formal agreement from Natural England.

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