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5th September 2018 | Agriculture, Press Releases

Green Party’s Hackett warns of anaerobic pitfalls

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The Green Party has advised caution regarding a Gas Networks Ireland proposal to develop a series of Anaerobic Digestion plants countrywide.

Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a valuable process which extracts energy, in the form of a biogas, from biodegradable waste products such as sewage sludge, animal slurries, waste vegetation, and other compostable waste products.

Speaking today, Green Party Spokesperson on Agriculture Pippa Hackett stated:

“While the Green Party welcomes potential developments in renewable energy production, particularly within the agriculture sector, the pros and cons of any proposal must be considered. Although crops and pasture can be grown to feed the digesters, we feel that this is not the way to go.

“The Irish agricultural sector has had a very difficult time of late, and promoting and encouraging the use of grass as a source to feed an AD facility is madness as we face into another hard winter. We are struggling to grow enough fodder to feed our farm animals each year; we do not need an additional sector to feed. It is akin to increasing the use of plastics, just so we can feed an incinerator.

“The idea of bringing unproductive land into production to feed an AD system may in fact add to the many environmental problems we are already dealing with, particularly in terms of water quality, soil degradation, and nitrous oxide emission from increased fertiliser use. In addition, many areas of ‘unproductive land’ provide very valuable habitats for small animals, and serve to improve biodiversity on many of our farms.

The Green Party maintains that while AD is an important and valuable process, it should form part of an integrated waste management system. We should focus this technology on the utilising the waste products from our agricultural and other sectors, and not on using grass that is needed as a primary food source for our livestock.