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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Farmers speculate on biomass boom
Willow planting
Farmers across southern Scotland are planting willow
Farmers across southern Scotland have been turning over large slices of their land to growing willow.

It is hoped much of it will eventually be used as fuel for the Steven's Croft biomass power station which is nearing completion outside Lockerbie.

The plant requires 220,000 tonnes of fuel a year and it is hoped local willow can provide about 45,000 tonnes.

Tests are expected to start next month at the E.ON plant before it goes into full production by the end of the year.

The latest sowing of the willow crop has been at a six-and-a-half hectare field at Dalscone Farm in Dumfries and more is due to be planted shortly at Stranraer, Kilmarnock and Lockerbie.

The siting of the plant in Lockerbie has encouraged some people to try and diversify into that area
NFUS spokesman

Renewable Fuels, the company growing and supplying harvested willow for the station, is expanding its programme for developing energy crop production in Scotland.

Contracts manager John Farrell said there was an increasing awareness of the revenue potential of the crop.

Increasingly popular

"Farmers in Dumfries and Galloway are becoming interested and we have already planted in four areas of the south west this spring and several more are in line," he said.

A spokesman for the National Union of Farmers Scotland in Dumfries said he was aware that willow was becoming more popular.

"There is potential there and there are certainly fields about the Lockerbie area where it is in," he said.

"The siting of the plant in Lockerbie has encouraged some people to try and diversify into that area."

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