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Renewable Energy Crops

Volume 404: debated on Wednesday 7 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for allowing renewable energy crops to be grown on set-aside land; and if she will make a statement. [111277]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: The original CAP reform proposals introduced the concept of a decoupled single income payment, designed to bring markets into better balance and take away incentives for over-production. Energy crops would be eligible for a 'carbon credit' aid of £45 per hectare, capped at 1.5 million hectares across the EU. Compulsory set-aside would have been retained, but the existing derogation to allow non-food, including energy crops, to be grown on it would be removed. We consider that the combination of decoupling together with a further cereals price cut removes the need for land to be taken out of production and placed in set-aside.The European Commission have indicated that they may be prepared to make some changes to their original proposal on set-aside, including allowing continued access for non-food crops. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.