Grants for farm waste power

The government has unveiled plans to offer grants to farmers to help England become a world leader in anaerobic digestion and renewable energy.

In a document published on Thursday (25 March), DEFRA said it would offer help to farmers, businesses and local authorities to turn farm waste, manure and other organic waste into fuel.

Farmers, businesses and local authorities will be offered grants to establish anaerobic digestion units, while a £10m programme of demonstration sites will be rolled out across the country,

The document, ‘Accelerating the uptake of anaerobic digestion in England’, also set out plans to establish a research unit to test out the latest technology.

Launching the plans, DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn said anaerobic digestion had “fantastic potential” for producing renewable energy.

“I’ve already seen great examples of this technology in use around the country and the plan we are publishing today will help speed up its use across the economy,” he said.

“We should aim to become world leaders in the innovative use of AD.”

But the Country Land and Business Association said the plan fell “far short” of what government and retailers originally said they would do to develop and deliver AD.

“DEFRA and the Environment Agency continue to regulate Anaerobic Digestion using inflexible and costly provisions which tie investors up in red tape,” said William Worsley, CLA president.

Mr Worsley said delays and unwarranted costs on small installations was counterproductive.

“The new Feed-In Tariff for electricity from biogas makes small-scale biogas plants on farm uneconomical,” he added.

“Many CLA members who were planning to invest in this most sustainable technology have cancelled their project because of this.

“The review of FIT promised for 2013 is simply too late.”

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