The Government is to launch an anaerobic digestion (AD) pilot project to supply biomethane, it has been announced as part of the National Development Plan 2021-2030.

Biomethane is a renewable gas and is made from biogas which has been purified to over 98% methane content.

Biogas is generated in AD plants from feedstock such as food waste, slurry and grass.

The Department of Agriculture has said it will consider utilising some its National Development Plan funding to redevelop the regional laboratory network and introduce pilot AD projects.

"Both potential projects are at the very early stages of planning and definitive costs or timelines are yet to be assigned," the Department said on Monday evening.

Forestry sector

The plan will provide a successor forestry programme to the current Forestry Programme 2014-2020, which has been extended to the end of 2022 in line with the next CAP.

Minister of State for with responsibility for land use and biodiversity Pippa Hackett said "this National Development Plan will ensure a publicly funded capital programme for afforestation beyond the lifetime of the current Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020; and I welcome that. This will help us to achieve the afforestation targets in the Climate Action Plan."

Some €271m has been assigned to agriculture in 2021, rising to €290m by 2025

In terms of funding under the programme, some €271m has been assigned to agriculture in 2021, rising to €290m by 2025.

Other measures in the plan which are already operational include the continued roll-out of the National Broadband Plan and the €1.5bn in carbon tax funding which will be deployed into farm schemes to cut emissions in the sector.

Rural development

Under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 of the CAP, which has been extended to 2022, €1.5bn will be provided to support to rural communities in Ireland over its remaining lifetime. Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said he expects the on-farm capital investment scheme under Ireland’s CAP strategic plan will help farmers looking to invest in capital projects on their farms. "Investment will increase environmental efficiency in the sector through the adoption of new technologies, support young farmers in accessing finance so they are in a better position to invest in and develop their farm enterprise and improve animal health and welfare, and farm safety on farms," he said.

Rural rengeneration

The National Development Plan has provided a total of €962m for the Department of Rural and Community Development over the period 2021 to 2025.

Over €480m of this funding will go towards rural regeneration and development schemes such as the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund and Town and Village Renewal and over €220m is to be invested in rural Ireland through the LEADER programme.

A range of national roads across the country are also under consideration for improvement under the plan and greenways will see additional investment.