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‘Early last Weds morning (June 28th) in Beijing, a Memorandum of Understanding between Bord Na Mona and PowerChina was signed to go to the next phase in the development of the Hydro Electric Plant in the Silvermines. This is a very important step and a critical announcement and something I have worked on for a year and half.

As you will be aware in January 2016 working with Darren Quinn CEO of Siga Hydro we announced plans to develop a Hydro electric plant in the old mining area in the Silvermines. It was estimated that the project would cost €650m and would be worth €2.5bn when built. The plant would use ‘pump storage’ technologies to produce 360 MW of electricity which would power approximately 200,000 houses. The project would create approximately 400 jobs during construction and well over 50 during operation. However, there would be a much greater economic impact on the area from the huge spend that will result and there will be other ancillary benefits.

The project is very similar to the plant in Turlough Hill, Co. Wicklow. Effectively, the plant would have two reservoirs linked together by a huge steel pipe. When there is excess wind energy created across the country, particularly at night, this will be used to pump the water from the lower reservoir to the higher reservoir. Then at times of peak demand (in the morning when we get up and in the evening times) the water is released and flows into the lower reservoir and turns turbines in it thereby creating energy which is used. The plant will be serviced by the 400 and 200 kv lines that are approximately 4km away.

Significantly from a local perspective, the project will not alone be a zero emission hydro electric power station but will also greatly advance the environmental rehabilitation of the area, with water in the existing reservoir set to be decontaminated, ending the seepage of harmful minerals into local water tables. It will also help with an overall plan to finally deal with all the environmental issues that exist from centuries of mining in the area.

When I was a Minister in the last Government, we launched a White Paper on Energy Policy that stressed the need for such a facility in Ireland. This was crucially important to progress this project. Furthermore, Tipperary County Council supported the development of such infrastructure through their plans and policies too.

After the announcement of the plans for this project, we engaged in a series of consultations with he local community in the Silvermines, culminating with a public meeting in Hickeys in the Silvermines.

After that there were a huge volume of meetings and discussions with various companies and organisations on the project. There were many meetings and conversations with the Minister for Energy and his Department.

This all resulted in a visit from representatives of the PowerChina company ( in March of this year. They were here for approximately 10 days and I met them on a number of occasions. They spent some time surveying the Silvermines site and I accompanied them as the local TD. I also had a number of meetings with the Chinese Ambassador to Ireland and he was very supportive.

As a result of this, last Wednesday morning a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Bord Na Mona (in conjunction with Siga Hydro) and Power China to go to the next stage of the project. It is very important that Bord Na Mona were involved as the have experience with developing and planning large scale projects in Ireland.

This is a critical milestone for this great project and I’m absolutely thrilled with this. It’s taken many, many hours, days and even weeks of work to get to this stage and I look forward to working with all the partners into the future as they bring this project further towards a planning application.

I will keep everyone updated as required. I want to thank the community in the Silvermines in particular for their support to date and also, Tipperary County Council, my colleague Cllr Fiona Bonfield and many friends and staff’.

Notes on Photos: attached are a range of photos. One of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding today by Mike Quinn CEO Bord Na Mona and Mr. Du Chunguo President PowerChina.

The original photo where I’m present at the Silvermines Site with the project developer, Darren Quinn, Siga Hydro. 


IFA Raises Payment Concerns with Dept at Charter of Rights Meeting



Speaking at a Charter of Rights meeting with the Department of Agriculture this week, the IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe said it’s absolutely essential that the maximum number of applicants in tranche 19 of TAMS are approved as soon as possible to provide certainty to farmers who are planning to carry out work.

IFA Rural Development Chairman Michael Biggins welcomed confirmation that payment of the ANC balancing payment will commence next week.

He stressed the importance of paying the remaining farmers as soon as they meet their stocking density requirements, which the Dept confirmed happens on a weekly basis.  Farmers will be paid as soon as they meet the required stocking density, which in some cases will run to the end of the year.

Michael Biggins also called on the Dept to pay the ANC to farmers who omitted in error to tick the ANC box on their BPS application this year.  “A system where a farmer has to ‘opt out’ rather the ‘opt in’ would ensure there are fewer errors when submitting applications,” he said.

IFA Deputy President Brian Rushe welcomed the payment of the BPS balancing payment which commenced this week.  “The Dept also confirmed the issue around transfer of entitlement, which held up payments of around 1,000 farmers, has been resolved for most at this stage and the remaining ones will be resolved in the next week,” he said.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Brendan Golden has welcomed DAFM facilitation of farmers who made ‘Draft applications’ to BEEP-S scheme and who had operated under the impression they were participating in the scheme by carrying out measures on their farms. IFA had raised this issue directly with the Department of Agriculture and the acceptance of these farmers into the scheme is the right decision.

Regarding the Beef Finishers Payment, Brendan Golden again called for cattle exported for slaughter in the reference period to be paid on from the surplus in the Beef Finishers Payment fund.

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IFA Launches Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements



IFA National Farm Business Chair Rose Mary McDonagh and Martin Stapleton, Chairman of the IFA Debt Support Service, have launched a Guide to Personal Insolvency Arrangements (PIA).

IFA Debt Support Service was established following the last recession to provide specific support to farmers in arrears.

The confidential service is comprised of an experienced team of IFA volunteers working with professional support to provide assistance to IFA members in financial difficulty.

Martin Stapleton said IFA has worked with over 500 farmers over the last few years. While the numbers in difficulty are reducing, recent weeks have seen an increase in activity from vulture funds since the COVID-19 Payment Breaks came to an end.

“This guide is available on IFA’s website and will serve as a useful resource for farmers in arrears seeking to protect their family home and farm land,” he said.

A Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) is a debt resolution mechanism outlined in the Personal Insolvency Act, which acts as an insolvency solution for people with unsecured and secured debt.

Rose Mary McDonagh added that a PIA can provide a debtor with protection from their creditors and on completion, a debtor will return to solvency.

At present, the Oireachtas is considering one of two Bills which will reform the area of personal insolvency and amend the current eligibility requirements for a PIA. Rose Mary McDonagh said the definition of relevant debt should be expanded to include debt prior to 2015, and debt secured in or over a debtor’s income reliant/core asset.

The IFA Debt Support Service can be contacted, in confidence, at 1890 924 853.

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EU Must Complete an Impact Assessment of Green Strategies



Speaking after a meeting of European Farm Leaders (COPA) with EU Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans yesterday, IFA President Tim Cullinan said that the EU must complete a full impact assessment of the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

“I told the Commissioner a full impact assessment is needed to determine how much implementing these strategies will cost,” he said.

“Frans Timmermans has threatened to withdraw the Commission’s own CAP proposal if it doesn’t take more account of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. Yet he has no idea how much these strategies will cost or who will pay for them,” he said.

“People are quoting all these targets without any consideration for their impact on output or on production costs of farmers. Farmers cannot be left to carry the can on this,” he said.

“We also need Teagasc to do an assessment of the impact in Ireland. We are currently deep in discussions on the Agrifood 2030 strategy, but again we have a data vacuum,” he said.

“It’s incredible that the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture has examined the impact of ‘Farm to Fork’ Strategy on farm incomes, output and trade and neither the EU nor Ireland has,” he said.

“The US report predicts that as a result of the strategy, farm incomes would be reduced by 16%. This is as a consequence of the expected loss of production by 12% across the EU which would not be offset by the 17% increase in market prices.”

“If these measures were implemented, the report predicts a loss in output at an EU level which would cause exports to fall by 20% and imports would increase by 2%. The knock-on effect of these changes in trade is predicted to increase the cost of food by €132 per person in the EU.”

“If these figures are correct, they would be devastating for European farmers. Yet the EU Commission doesn’t know, or won’t tell us, what their assessment of the impact will be,” he said.

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