A recent discussion in Leinster House focused on whether the Basic Farm Payment is still applicable to land that will be used for solar energy.
It was raised by Kildare South’s Martin Heydon (FG) and put to his party colleague, the Minister for Agriculture. Michael Creed first noted that BPS is permitted in cases where the majority of a hectare has agricultural activities taking place on it, as well of course all of the land.
With that in mind, he explained what the European Commission has advised. According to the overruling body, any parts of land used for solar energy is not eligible for BPS. He also said that, “in line with the Department’s current approach on land eligibility, where the area of a parcel covered by solar panels is 70% or greater of the overall parcel, that parcel will be wholly ineligible. If less than 70% is covered by solar panels and the agricultural activity is not hampered by the presence of the solar panels, the area not covered by solar panels may be eligible”.
He later said the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources had provided advice on the issue too, and that it will provide a public consultation to help develop a new support scheme centred on solar. Details of this consultation will be made known in the near future according to Mr Creed.