The announcement by Minister Hackett in this year’s budget of €100,000 for a feasibility study on wool has been welcomed by the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association. Their National Council Representative for Donegal Pheilim Molloy outlined how the organisation has in the run-up to the budget been lobbying both Minister Hackett and Minister McConologue to deliver funding for a feasibility study on wool.
Molloy detailed how the organisation has over the last number of months been assessing various options for wool which he stated “is aimed at delivering a much higher price for wool and developing indigenous industries in our rural communities. 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.”
The commitment of €100,000 for the feasibility study can he added “help assess various options and is a first step in what we hope will be a new dawn.”
While the commitment of money for a feasibility study is welcome, the Donegal Rep pointed to an immediate option for wool that the Government has influence over, that being insulation material for buildings. In the budget, Molloy outlined how a commitment has also been given under the new retrofit scheme. which will prioritise older houses and public buildings. There is, he stated “an opportunity here for the State to prioritise the use of wool as an insulation material in this Retrofit scheme.”
Wool, he stated, “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.”
With a total of €268.5m committed in this year’s budget to retrofit activity, we have stated Molloy “an ideal opportunity to add value to a natural Irish product while addressing energy and climate change concerns.”
In concluding he 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 he stated, “a golden opportunity here, that I hope our Government and its various Departments will grasp.”