8 December 1995

Biodiesel takes back seat after Budget switch

By Andrew Blake

UNITED Oilseeds has temporarily shelved its interest in biodiesel, after last weeks Budget move to back natural gas.

In his speech, chancellor Kenneth Clarke introduced a concession which knocked 15% off the duty on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), following studies which showed it to be environmentally friendly.

But tax breaks for biodiesel were turned down just before the Budget, explains United Oilseeds director Richard Matthews. The discrepancy between the two fuels effectively "puts the kibosh" on diesel from oilseed rape.

United Oilseeds has been at the forefront of this area, last year organising a "round Great Britain" publicity stunt in a biodiesel car.

But the governments focus has been elsewhere, and it has spent large sums researching combustion emissions from gas-based alternative fuels, he says.

Another factor is the cut in set-aside which, for the time being at least, reduces the potential area for industrial cropping.

"Weve not lost interest, but well have to push our management interests in other directions," says Mr Matthews.

But he believes there may be a more fundamental stumbling block in the shape of the governments Energy Technology Support Unit. "The ETSU has been against biodiesel from the start," he claims. &#42

Richard Matthews believes the government has put the kibosh on biodiesel.