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Snippet Contents:

To finish what I was saying earlier, I reiterate that my focus is on fostering the sustainable production of biomass in Ireland. Any actions taken in terms of the sourcing of biomass from abroad should be evaluated in the context of the capacity of the Irish biomass market, and my long-term objective is to ensure that biomass used in Ireland is grown as close as possible to the end user.
I was involved in a debate at the ploughing championships last week with the chief executive of Bord na Móna, Mike Quinn. He made it crystal clear that the company will import one tonne less of biomass for every tonne of biomass that can be sourced here in Ireland.
We are all singing from the same hymn sheet on this issue. The two big users of biomass in the short term are Lanesborough and Shannonbridge power stations, which are on the edge of my constituency. There is a huge opportunity for local farmers to supply those, but the demand will happen before the yield comes on those crops. We need to work with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine on establishment grants and get these crops up and running, but we need to source biomass in the short term to meet the immediate demand. If we do not put a clear supply chain in place, there will not be the demand for the product when the farmers have grown it. That is what happened previously. We do not want that system to arise again.
The Deputy raised the issue of the staff in Littleton. Two issues arise, the first of which is the staff redundancies. I have been actively engaged with both the company and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on that issue. Second, I still believe there is a strong opportunity on that site to develop alternative industries, perhaps along the lines of what we have been speaking about here. I am happy to have a more detailed debate on all the strands we are now putting in place to develop the biomass renewable energy sector. I am happy to have that in the House or at a committee at any stage.