DTi hits back at NFU’s biofuel claim

THE DEPARTMENT for Trade and Industry has rebuffed suggestions that the UK government is fudging the introduction of the biofulels directive.

The suggestions were made by the NFU in a letter of complaint about the government which it sent to the EU Commission.

A copy of the letter was sent to the DTI drawing a swift response from the department. In a statement the DTI defended the government’s record saying: “The government is committed to encouraging the use of biofuels, and agrees that they can offer real environmental benefits.”

Thanks to a 20ppl fuel duty incentive, sales of biofuels in the UK have now reached 10m litres a month, a five-fold increase since this time last year, the statement read..

“We are currently conducting a feasibility study into the prospects for a Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation. This will look at whether we could introduce such an obligation and how it might work.”

Although the specified biofuel target of 2% is not compulsory, member states are required to justify their reasons for not adhering to them.

The UK’s target of 0.3% is one of the lowest and is dwarfed by the EU average of 1.4% with Sweden (3%) and the Czech Republic (3.7%) setting headline levels.

Peter Kendall, author of the letter, explained the significance of the issue. “Energy security is a serious issue and biofuels have a role to play in safeguarding our energy supply.  For Blair to go and lecture the world on climate change while we have a target of 0.3% is pathetic.”

The letter will increase pressure on the Treasury to raise the level of tax-relief on biofuels. The 20ppl tax-relief for biofuels from the Treasury is the lowest fiscal support available from any national government in the EU.

Copied in on the letter are four government departments which all have vested interests in the biofuels directive, this, according to Matt Ware, NFU non-food crops adviser, is partly the reason for the problem.

“It smacks of a lack of strategy and leadership from the government which needs to appoint a departmental leader and give them the clout to go with it. As it stands, no single department has responsibility and so no one department is primarily at fault.”


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