5 April 2002

Calls to reduce duty for biofuel

By David Green

A BUSINESSMAN, who aims to develop the use of oilseed rape to produce biodiesel, is urging farmers to lobby their MPs over a reduction of excise duty to make the process financially viable.

The call, by Dennis Thouless, who is already producing biodiesel using recycled vegetable oils, came after a story about his aims to establish similar plants all over the country appeared in farmers weekly (News, March 15).

It brought a "fantastic" response from interested FW readers, said Mr Thouless.

"The phone went absolutely crazy. I have had individual farmers, groups of farmers and seed suppliers contacting me from Yorkshire, Scotland, southern Ireland, just about everywhere," he said.

But the realisation of Mr Thouless dreams, to make rape fields the oilfields of the future, lies in the Treasurys tax plans for biofuels.

"The 20p [tax] reduction which has been promised in this months budget will not be enough. It needs to go down a few pence more and then we can really start to do business," said Mr Thouless.

He is urging farmers to lobby their MPs to put greater pressure on the government to take a "giant step forward" which would boost farm viability and help the environment.

"What we need is a clear signal from the government that it is prepared to create the financial climate in which this new industry can prosper," he added.

Producers of the new biodiesels claim the fuels can be used in any existing diesel engine, either on their own or in a mix with conventional fuel.

At present biodiesel from Mr Thouless Shipdham plant in Norfolk is being used to fuel a local contractors fleet of vehicles and by some of the firms employees for off-road sport.

Diesel fuel bought in France already contains 5% biodiesels and Mr Thouless is confident this will, with government help, soon be the "norm" in the UK. &#42