Lib Dems call for progress on biofuels

More progress needs to be made on producing biofuels and other forms of renewable energy if the UK is to meet green fuel targets, according to the climate change minister.

Department for Energy and Climate Change minister Chris Huhne was speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Liverpool on Sunday (19 September).

Mr Huhne told delegates that more biofuel production and anaerobic digestion plants were needed if the country was going to succeed in producing 20% of renewable fuel by 2020.

And he added that the UK had the third-worst rate of renewable energy production in Europe – ahead of only Malta and Luxembourg – and more needed to be done to encourage people to install AD plants and wind turbines.

He also said there was going to be a “very important” role for biofuels in the coming years which farmers could take advantage of.

But Mr Huhne warned the development of the industry could not affect food production.

“There will be plenty of business for biofuel products, but it can’t be at the cost of food-producing land at a time when the population is growing massively,” he told delegates at a Friends of the Earth fringe event on climate change.

“We also need to get anaerobic digestion plants out there are deal with the myths around them,” he said.

“There are severe planning problems around them at the moment but I am talking to DEFRA about how to get past those. We need to make progress.”

Mr Huhne said the government needed to do a lot of work on winning the public over, about different methods of green energy production.

“There’s a lot of nimbyism around,” he said. “I don’t understand the problem with wind turbines, I think they are beautiful – why can’t people like them?

“We will also work harder to make people love anaerobic digestion plants, particularly ones fed on pig slurry.”

Mr Huhne said he was confident that spending cuts would not affect renewable energy plans or Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to be the greenest government ever.

But he said the government had to ensure people were able to make money from renewable energy production to encourage them to become greener.

“We need real financial incentives on renewables to make it daft for people not to do it,” he added.

See more