Following the publication of the Biomass Task Force Report, Alliance has called for much more to be done to promote and use biomass in Northern Ireland.
Alliance Leader David Ford, who was a member of both the Agriculture and Environment committees in the Assembly, said:
“It is clear that biomass had a major role to play in helping the UK meet its Kyoto obligations to cut down greenhouse gas production. Northern Ireland is uniquely placed to benefit from this.
“Our climate is ideal for the growing of willows and other short-rotation coppice crops, which can be used for both producing heat and electricity generation in a carbon-neutral way.
“Biofuels can complement other alternative energy sources, such as wind and water power, and could meet a significant share of the local energy demand. The lead-in time for biofuels is short compared to most energy schemes, meaning that they could make a quick contribution to local needs.
“Biofuels present a major opportunity for large-scale alternative crops for local farmers. At a time of great weakness in traditional markets for foodstuffs, especially beef and lamb, the potential market for fuels is significant and growing.
“It is time for specific targets to be set for the share of the energy market to be derived from biomass and for the area of crops to be grown. In addition, Government should provide a lead by ensuring significant biomass use in the public estate.
“The Government record on climate change, as opposed to its rhetoric, has not been good so far. If the Government is serious about tackling climate change and about helping farmers and rural communities, it is time to really get down to the development of biomass fuels.”