“It is absolutely critical to remove the barriers that are preventing farmers from taking part in the microgeneration scheme”
The Green Party welcomes the commitment from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today (Mon 9th) to bring about better and more stable income streams to farmers through the roll out of the microgeneration scheme; and calls on Fine Gael Minister of State Peter Burke to urgently progress planning legislation to enable farmers to benefit.
The microgeneration scheme, introduced by Minister Eamon Ryan, has seen more than 21,000 electricity customers already signed up to sell power from their solar panels back to the national grid from July. There is huge potential for farmers to benefit from this scheme. However, a proposed overhaul of the planning regulations brought forward by the Green Party, is currently stalled.
Steven Matthews TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Planning Committee and Green Party spokesperson for Planning and Local Government stated;
“Planning laws that restrict the use of solar panels on farms and other locations such as schools and community buildings, have all but stopped development and need to be urgently overhauled. At the moment, farmers need to seek planning permission to install even one solar panel and this can take months of paperwork and formalities. There are also restrictions on the size and number of panels that can be used, and this means they are too small for the needs of the building.”
The microgeneration scheme, introduced by Minister Eamon Ryan, has seen more than 21,000 electricity customers already signed up to sell power from their solar panels back to the national grid from July.
A Bill introducing planning exemptions to the Planning and Development Regulations, was brought to the Seanad by the Green Party in June 2021, which would mean planning permission would no longer be required for larger installations of solar panels across farm buildings, schools, community centres, residential units and a range of commercial buildings.
Senator Pauline O’Reilly who brought the Bill to the Seanad stated;
“It is absolutely critical to remove the barriers that are preventing farmers from taking part in the microgeneration scheme. We have been working hard, through this bill, to open up opportunities for farms and public buildings to install enough panels to finally power some or all of their electricity needs and to sell any excess electricity that they generate back to the grid. However, a number of delays have set back this straightforward update to legislation.
“The Green Party now calls on Fine Gael’s Peter Burke, Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, to progress this legislation urgently, in order to enable farmers to benefit from this income stream.”
Senator Róisín Garvey, Green Party Spokesperson for Rural Development and Enterprise, Trade and Employment said;
“As a rural representative I want to see solar panels on the roof of every farm building in Ireland. We could finally see farmers reduce their energy bill and get paid for excess electricity they produce through the Microgeneration Scheme introduced by Minister Eamon Ryan. I know from my own community and those across the country, farmers are waiting and willing to play their part in decarbonising our energy production. There is huge potential for farmers and rural communities to play a major role in meeting our climate targets as well as benefit from reduced energy costs. Now we just need action on planning legislation to make this happen.”