MPs hit out at government’s bioenergy policy

The government’s renewable energy policy has come under fire from a cross-party group of MPs.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said the government’s vision for the role of bioenergy lacked ambition.

The committee which is made up of eight Labour MPs two Lib Dems and four Tories said that the government needed to do much more to bring together the various aspects of its bioenergy strategy in a single cohesive policy.

EFRA also attacked the slow progress towards the government’s committed aim of making DEFRA’s buildings and offices carbon neutral by 2012.

“We remain unconvinced that the government will meet its commitment when the only step towards this has been the completion of the first phase of a mapping exercise of part of DEFRA’s estate to assess its suitability for the use of biomass heat.

Also singled out was biofuel. The committee suggested that the government should assess and target biofuel use to mirror progress made in other countries such as Sweden where the uptake of biofuel powered vehicles was already high.

It added that incentives should be introduced to encourage greater uptake.

But DEFRA said that although it would keep under active review the cost benefit of biofuels it would be left to the market to decide what was the most efficient way to deliver the use.

That was a response EFRA said it found ‘disappointing’. But DEFRA countered saying it in turn was disappointed by the EFRA select committee.

A DEFRA spokesman said the committee had portrayed too negative a picture.

“Although government has set itself long-term targets to encourage its departments to reduce their energy and fuel emissions, and use renewable energy as much as is cost effective, departments will still be left with an ineliminable rump of emissions.”

But this could be offset as a further renewable energy target already existed for departments to source at least 10% of their energy from renewable sources by 2010, said the spokesman.

“We have accelerated the mapping exercise that is examining the suitability of using biomass heating across our estate,” said the statement.

“Initial work has identified some 26 sites which have potential for installation of biomass boilers and we are about to commission further work to carry out in-depth suitability assessments.

“We are about to commission new biomass boilers at one of our buildings in York and at the new DEFRA offices in Alnwick – the latter will be the first zero-carbon building on the DEFRA estate.”