The livestock industry has welcomed a decision to grant the rendering industry an extension to continue to use tallow to fire their plants.

Renderers had warned that switching to fuel oil would add costs of £30-50m, which would inevitably get passed back to farmers.

They had been told that they would need to stop using tallow as a fuel because of the implementation of the Waste Incineration Directive.

Dai Davies, president of NFU Cymru said: “I am delighted with this outcome given the perverse environmental impact which would have resulted had this sensible and pragmatic use of by-products not been adopted.

“The use of tallow in rendering plants provides a number of benefits.  It allows the beneficial re-use of material from the rendering process and compared to alternative fossil fuels, tallow releases less carbon dioxide when burnt.”

John Kinnaird, president of NFU Scotland, said: “We simply couldn’t have the same government department encouraging the use of renewables fuels asking firms to stop using tallow and revert back to burning heavy oil. 

“As well as the environmental cost, this had the potential to add serious financial costs onto the industry for no public benefit.  I am pleased government has accepted our argument.”

Norman Bagley, policy director of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, said: “The introduction of the tallow ban would have posed a serious threat to the future sustainability of the medium and smaller sized processing sector, adding an extra £100,000 to the annual disposal costs of an average sized plant.”

DEFRA has said that the rule that requires tallow to be burnt in compliance with the WID is under review in Brussels.

The European Commission has set up a study to help establish whether such controls are proportionate and necessary to the protection of the environment, said a spokesman. The study is expected to report by the autumn.

Until that time, so long as renderers enter technical discussions with regulators about moving towards WID compliance, they can continue to burn tallow as a fuel.