DARD Minister Has Let Down Poultry Industry, Says Ag Spokesman30 January 2013
UK - Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Agriculture Spokesman Paul Frew has accused the Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill of letting Northern Ireland’s poultry industry down by not supporting the Rose Energy proposals to deal with poultry waste.
Mr Frew was speaking during a DUP debate in the Assembly criticising the Environment Minister’s rejection of the plans and highlighted that despite the refusal of the application there was still no other viable alternative in place.
Speaking after the debate Mr Frew said: "The poultry sector is a vital part of our economy sustaining around 7,000 jobs and contributing 14% of the gross output from the agri-food industry. The agri-food industry has been one of the most resilient sectors during the current recession and even in the current economic difficulties there is still scope for expansion of the local poultry sector.
"Expanding the sector however will add to the 260,000 tonnes of poultry litter which is already produced each year, a large proportion of which cannot be disposed of sustainably at present. By failing to support the only viable proposal to deal with this waste it inhibits this expansion and forces business out of Northern Ireland at a time we can least afford it.
"Whilst the Environment Minister sneaked his planning refusal out on the last working day before Christmas, it has also been particularly disappointing to see a complete abdication of leadership from the Agriculture Minister. The Rose Energy proposals were put forward by the local agri-food industry using proven technology in use around the world within areas of significant population yet it was blankly rejected.
"It is not that this proposal was rejected in favour of another alternative because at the current point in time there is no viable alternative technology available. We do not have the land area available to spread any more poultry litter and there are significant problems in the practical application of technology such as gasification. The only other high-handed option handed down to the local industry is to export the waste. What in effect would happen however would be the export of the business out of Northern Ireland rather than the waste.
"The Agriculture Minister’s own officials from the Department highlighted not just the benefits of the application but the lack of alternatives. However when the Environment Minister rejected the proposals the DARD Minister sat back impassively.
"The DUP is happy to stand fully behind our local poultry industry and all those whose livelihoods depend upon it. Those who offer forward rejection of the only viable alternative must instead come forward with a practical solution as the clock ticks steadily downwards towards the end of this current European derogation with the real possibility of no further such derogations being granted. Such a scenario would be a disaster for our local economy yet two Ministers appear either unaware or unconcerned by such a scenario."