Biofuel policy should be delayed – says DEFRA scientist

DEFRA‘s chief scientific adviser has told the government it should delay legislation forcing fuel manufacturers to introduce biofuels at forecourts across the UK.

The Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation (RETFO) is to introduce 2.5% biofuels at the pumps from 15 April.

But chief scientific adviser professor Robert Watson said the government policy was premature because scientists and green pressure groups were still debating the true contribution of biofuels to reductions in carbon emissions.


Instead he wanted government ministers to wait for the Department for Transport to conclude an inquiry into the green credentials of biofuel.

In an interview with the BBC Prof Watson warned that it would be “insane if RETFO had the opposite effects to the ones intended”.

And he added that biofuels policy in the EU and the UK may have run ahead of the science.

Carbon emission

Certain production methods involved in producing biofuels are thought to be better for the environment than others.

Concerns have been raised in the US over the amount of carbon emitted when virgin soil is ploughed up for biofuel production. In these circumstances it is suggested that the negative effects could outweigh any potential carbon saving from the biofuels.

See more