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She explained biomass is material derived from living organisms such as plants or animal waste. Woody biomass can produce heat and electricity. She said Ireland has excellent wood growing conditions and noted willow was found to be the best plant for biomass.

From Teagasc research she found that Manorhamilton had a high capacity area to accommodate forestry and it has good conditions for growing willow. Within a radius of 6km there are around 2,200 HA of existing forestry which could be used for biomass. 1 Ha of willow is equivalent to 4,500 litres of home heating oil, which could heat 3-4 houses for a year. Growing willow is supported by the Bioenergy Scheme which offers farmers up to 50% of the set up costs.

Olga informed the group that Our Lady’s Hospital, Manorhamilton has a 300kW wood pellet boiler. She noted that McCauley Wood Fuels of Mohill supply wood chips and fire wood, but there are no local suppliers. She suggested the construction of a drying plant would create employment locally.

Olga said woody biomass would have a number of benefits for Manorhamilton including environmental, economic and social.