Funding for a €100,000 feasibility study on the wool market has been allocated in Budget 2021, Minister of State with responsibility for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hackett confirmed last week.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA), describing the commitment as a first step towards a new dawn for the sector.

National council representative for Donegal Pheilim Molloy outlined how the organisation has over the last number of months been assessing various options for wool.

“Our options are aimed at delivering a much higher price for wool and developing indigenous industries in our rural communities,” Molloy said.

“In doing so, there is the potential to develop a thriving woolen industry where value is added to the product in Ireland rather than having to export the raw product at minimal price.”

Excellent insulator

The INHFA has suggested the use of wool as an insulating material for buildings as an immediate option to be explored.

Molloy highlighted the commitment given under the new retrofit scheme which will prioritise older houses and public buildings. “There is an opportunity here for the State to prioritise the use of wool as an insulation material in this scheme.

“Wool due to its crimped nature is an excellent insulation material that in addition to being a natural fibre is also one of the safest materials in terms of fire and smoke hazards.”

Grasp opportunity

With a total of €268.5m committed in this year’s budget to retrofit activity, the INHFA suggests wool use is an opportunity to add value while addressing energy and climate change concerns.

Molloy stressed the need for inter-departmental co-operation to quantify what level of insulation will be required and how much of this can be delivered through wool.

“There is a golden opportunity here that I hope our Government and its various Departments will grasp.”

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