Comment – Britain benefits from biofuels

A director of a company involved in the British biofuel sector has hit back at Westminster's criticism of the fuel's environmental performance, saying MPs have got the wrong end of the stick.

Green Fuels director, Colin Hygate has today condemned the report by a group of MPs which derides biofuels for their alleged damage to the environment and which calls for an immediate moratorium on plans to expand their use.

The report centres on claims about widespread deforestation, often in under-privileged countries as a result of palm oil production.

It comes at a time when the Government and environmental groups are putting increased emphasis on the use of alternative, sustainable fuels for use in road transport.

Yesterday the EU announced that 10 per cent of transport fuel should be supplied by renewable sources by the year 2020.

But, as Stonehouse company, Green Fuels explains the MPs have missed the point that palm oil is only used within biofuel production in this country by very large fuel companies who are selling a less than 5% blend with fossil fuel.

Their products are used by small enterprises using sustainable sourced used vegetable oils generally at 100% in their vehicles.

The report consequently missed the opportunity to encourage businesses and individuals to change from using fossil fuels.

The benefits extend beyond the environmental impact because, with ever-increasing petrol prices, individuals can produce their own biodiesel for as little as 15 pence per litre where the oil is collected free of charge from a local caterer.

The UK climate is unsuitable for the use of palm oil as a fuel beyond a very small blend and Green Fuels, in common with many biofuels companies with a clear ethical policy does not use and actively discourages the use of palm oil.

Biodiesel made from palm oil turns solid at temperatures below 16ºC. Input feedstock in this country is more likely to be re-used rape or sunflower seed oil which significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, because these plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

“The deforestation that has undoubtedly occurred as a result of the rush by some countries to produce biofuel on the same scale as fossil fuels, but that’s not the case in UK,” said Mr Hygate.

“The industry here is being criticised because of a lack of understanding of the structure and activity of the industry as a whole and it’s just scaremongering.”

Good practices in biofuels production in this country have a positive environmental impact beyond their substitution for fossil fuels.

Green Fuels encourages a closed-loop, local production system so that the benefits of its fuels are not negated by road transport to other areas of the country.

Local farmers produce crops and process them into cooking oil and when their catering customers have finished with it they then use this to produce biodiesel for the local market.

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