15 November 2001
Crops to be answer to energy crisis

By Tom Allen-Stevens

FOSSIL FUELS will be finished by 2060, and farmers should be there to supply the shortfall, delegates at the Crops Scottish Conference have been told.

“By 2020, 90% of UK gas will be imported from countries like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Iraq, said British Biogens Peter Billins.

“The government is putting money into energy crops because it is terrified about the security of energy supply.

The revelations come from the treasurys own figures, circulated in July this year, which have prompted a massive rethink on energy supply, said Mr Billins.

Another key driver for change is that the now privatised energy providers have no cash to invest the billions needed to rebuild the UKs ageing power plants.

“They have used these plants as cash cows, so energy policy has been driven back into government hands, said Mr Billins.

He said that the government is putting money into energy crops because they offer a way out that also agrees with the Kyoto agreement on reduced emissions.

Farmers, as natural guardians of the carbon cycle should take the opportunity to grow for what he believes will be an important market.

To stimulate biofuel demand, the British Association of Biofuel and Oil chairman Peter Clery told delegates a tax incentive is all that is needed.

He castigated the government for giving gas-fuelled cars a 40ppl tax break while offering biofuels just 20ppl, and accused oil companies of a dirty tricks campaign.

“BP are persuading environmental groups that biodiesel is not green because they dont want to lose the 5% control of the market the fuel would bring to farmers.

He said that biofuels can help cut greenhouse and local air quality tailpipe emissions and provide an alternative energy supply that is carbon neutral.

“There is the potential for farmers to deliver one million ha of oilseed rape, producing 10% of the countrys fuel, we just need tax parity with road fuel gas.

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