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Country News - 2002

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Green fuel could create 10,000 rural jobs
Wednesday 06 November 2002

TEN WEEKS after a pioneering wood-burning power station was closed down in Yorkshire, the NFU is pressing the Government to support more "green fuel" plants - this time, to power cars and other vehicles- to help provide 10,000 desperately needed rural jobs.

As we reported in a Week in the country (see Weeping Willows and Global Warming), an experimental willow-burning power station at Selby has been abandoned although local farmers had been contracted to supply the fast growing trees needed for fuel.

Now, the NFU is pressing for Government grants and tax relief to encourage the introduction of more "green fuel" plants around the country - and help create 10,000 new jobs.

Growing wheat, sugar and rape to turn into "bio-fuels" to power the country's vehicles could help to offset many of the 60,000 job losses in the farming industry in recent years, the NFU believes.

But the much-needed boost to the rural economy depends on the Government providing the tax relief necessary to encourage the investment required developing the emerging industry to its full potential.

To make bio-fuels more competitive at filling stations, NFU Alternative Crop Uses Chairman Rad Thomas has been lobbying for 30p per litre tax relief on all liquid bio-fuels in next month's pre-Budget statement instead of the current 20ppl, which is not even available for all bio-fuels.

In other EU countries such as Germany and France, the state levies little or no duty on bio-fuels.

Says Mr Thomas said: "Literally thousands of desperately-needed jobs could be created if this new industry takes off. We are not saying this is a panacea, but the production of bio-fuels could be a major factor in turning around the current rural economic crisis, not forgetting the major environmental benefits."

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