The UK’s first grain bioethanol plant has been given the go-ahead by South Somerset district council.

Green Spirit Fuels, a subsidiary of the farmer-owned grain trader Wessex Grain, hopes to have the plant up and running on a site in Henstridge, Somerset, by mid-2007.

It will be capable of processing more than 300,000t of wheat a year to make 100,000t of fuel – some 100m litres.

Managing director Malcolm Shepherd said: “This will confirm the South West as the leading region in renewable and sustainable energy and will contribute not just to the health of the environment but also to the well-being of the farming community.”

The company has already asked farmers to get in touch if they are interested in selling grain to the plant in 2007, and plans to launch long-term contracts soon.