Biofuels - could crops such as sugarbeet power our future?
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in Yorkshire is urging the Government to use the Climate Change Bill announced in yesterday's Queen's Speech as the vehicle to encourage production of renewable energy sources - a move which would help thousands of hard-hit farmers.
As we reported last month (see a Week in the Country), sugar beet growers are threatened with bankruptcy because of the closure the British Sugar plant near York - despite the fact that sugar beet is potentially one of the two best crops for the production of pollution-free fuel for cars and other vehicles. The other is oil seed rape, which is also grown widely in the county.
Responding to the Queen's Speech announcement that a new Climate Change Bill will aim to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent by 2050, Dorothy Fairburn, regional director of the CLA, commented: "The CLA's recent report into land management and climate change recommended that farming and land management has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change.
"The CLA raised recommendations of the report at a recent meeting with the Prime Minister and the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, who both agreed it was important to increase the amount of land-based renewable energy in the UK. We are now urging the Government to use the Bill as the vehicle to encourage production of bioethanol, biodiesel, biomass and anaerobic digestion of animal and food wastes to produce biogas."
However, she warned that the climate change debate should not be used as an excuse to pile extra taxes on agriculture: "The figures in the recent Stern report suggested that of the 32 per cent of worldwide green house gases, 14 per cent came from agriculture and 18 per cent came from land use change," she said.
The figures in the recent Stern report suggested that of the 32 per cent of worldwide green house gases, 14 per cent came from agriculture
Dorothy Fairburn - CLA
"The UK figures for these two are 7.5 per cent and 0.1 per cent net respectively. In other words together they contribute only 7.6 per cent - less than a quarter of the global figure.
"We don't want to see additional costs being directed at UK farmers and land managers. Not a single gram of carbon will be saved or a reduction in green house gases achieved if production is displaced to the rest of Europe or the rest of the world resulting in transportation of the extra produce to the UK."