9 November 2001
NFU calls for more action on biofuel

By Tom Allen-Stevens

EXTRA cash for energy crops has been welcomed by the National Farmers Union, but it has pressed for further action on biofuels.

The Union said that the 15 million of extra funding allocated by the Government must signal the start of a “green revolution” for alternative crops.

The announcement, part of a 100m green energy package, was made by the Cabinets Performance and Innovations Unit on Tuesday (6 November).

It paves the way for more crops such as miscanthus and short rotation coppice as a more environmentally-friendly alternative energy source to fossil fuels.

But in a separate move on Monday, the European Commissions Transport division gave its backing to moves to foster the use of alternative transport fuels.

Under the proposed directive, 2% of the entire use of European fossil fuel is to be replaced with fuels from renewable sources by 2006.

“The UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe on this issue,” NFU Alternative Crops Uses Committee Chairman Rad Thomas told FWi on Thursdsay.

“Biofuels get 100% tax break in Germany and oilseed rape production is rising through the roof to meet demand.”

France and Austria are two other countries who have initiated far greater incentives than the modest tax break Gordon Brown has made, he added.

“It doesnt have to cost the treasury. You could make it obligatory for certain vehicles to use green diesel, which would be slightly more expensive.”

Examples would be inner city buses and leisure boats using inland water ways. “Remember biofuels are biodegradable, which also means less pollution.”

Another zero cost plan would be to add tax to fossil fuels, deducting it pro rata from fuel from renewable sources.

This weeks moves on energy crops add fuel to a new campaign launched in Crops tomorrow (Saturday).

Readers are requested to support the “Do your duty for green fuel” campaign, which aims to persuade Gordon Brown to cut tax on biofuels.

It will also be a hot topic of discussion at the Crops Conferences on Thursday 15 November (Perth) and Tuesday 27 November (Cambridge).

Peter Clery from the British Association of Biofuels and Oils and Peter Billins from British Biogen will argue that UK growers will become the new oil barons.

Biodiesel, taxed at 25ppl, should be treated similarly to liquid petroleum gas, which is taxed at just 10ppl, says the magazine.

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