Colm Cleary, Birr, Co Offaly

“Solar and farm diversification were my two main interests for coming down. I had a nice few questions around taxation and on solar panels – mainly on the tax end of it and if you were passing on land to the next generation.

“If you were putting them in [on the entire farm], your farm would be moving into a different tax zone and that would affect things if you were passing it on to a son or daughter.

“The rules need to be relaxed if they want to get people to go more green and contribute to become more carbon-neutral. Another couple of my friends came here today with the same outlook of going into solar and we’ve all left here today saying that we won’t go down that road now.

“We’re all here to try and diversify because margins are so tight, particularly on the beef and sheep side of things.

“I think the Government is sending out mixed messages and I think they need to go back to the table.”

Raymond Brady, Mullahoran, Co Cavan

“I came to have a look at the solar because I’m thinking of putting in a TAMS grant application. A 60% grant is a good grant and I want to make sure that when I invest, I invest in a good system.

“I put up a wind turbine back a number of years ago and I’d be disappointed with it in terms of payback, it was a lot longer than I would have liked.

“There was seven or eight years where I got nothing for the excess and if I was 15 miles further up the road in Northern Ireland, I would be getting paid for everything I produced. I’m dairy farming and electricity will probably never be as cheap as it was, but even from a sustainability point of view we’ve got to be independent and less reliant on the grid.

“I think the anaerobic digestion is interesting and I’m in a part of the country where there’s a lot of pig and poultry and I could see a big growth area for it. The planning for it is an area where there’s going to have to be an overhaul on, if they [Government] want to meet targets they’re going to have to take out the road blocks.”

Jack Walshe, Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford

“We want to be able to diversify and be up to speed with all the different options for farm diversification so that’s why we’re here today.

“As a small beef farm in Co Waterford that’s limited with its capability of being able to profit, and not being a dairy farm, there are a couple of things we have to do.

“We have to farm all the subsidies possible and the next step naturally for us was to go organic. I’d say our farm cheques will have nearly doubled when we’re fully certified.

“All those schemes are quite important for us especially with the new CAP scheme where they are reducing the payments as a result of convergence.

“As an electrical engineer, there were some very good talks on solar here today and we’re here to learn about that too.”