NFUS calls for sense in biofuels debate

NFU Scotland has called for clarity and sensible discussion as the debate over biofuels and their impacts on environment and economy rages on.

The Union has pointed out that misinformation surrounding the costs and benefits of biofuel production in the UK is threatening the fight against climate change.

It argues that biofuel production in Scotland is environmentally sustainable and does not take away from the production of food. It says that the argument is not black and white and the government must look at the bigger picture, including possible biofuel byproducts.

Oilseed rape, for example, can first be crushed for the production of cooking oil, the waste products at this stage can then be fed to livestock and finally, used cooking oil and livestock tallow can be used to produce biofuel.

NFUS insists that sustainable biofuel production is essential, not just to combat climate change but also to help secure the long term future of the agriculture industry, as well as being a tool to tackle growing energy costs.

Jim McLaren, NFU Scotland president, said: "Climate change poses enormous challenges and the involvement of farmers in the production of biofuels can play an important role in tackling these challenges.

"Many farmers and processors have invested a great deal of time, money and environmental commitment into the production of biofuels and they must not be stopped in their tracks. The UK Government must continue its commitment to renewable targets rather than hide behind biofuels as an excuse for higher food prices.

"The food versus fuel debate is far too simplistic. The UK farming industry is more than capable of producing quality food and contributing to the fight against climate change by producing biofuels.

"There is no need to make a stark choice between the two. We can see from the oilseed rape example that the cycle is far from simple and that we need to think beyond just the food versus fuel argument.

"It seems we have government policy in the UK and in Europe lurching from one policy to the next depending on the results of the latest opinion polls; most of which are based on a less than full picture of what is going on.

"The reality is that there are sustainable and unsustainable ways of producing everything, biofuels included. To tar all types of production with the same brush is ludicrous. We have real win-win renewable projects in Scotland.

"In Motherwell, for example, Argent is taking costly wastes such as tallow, mixing them with cooking oil and turning them into biodiesel. That's exactly the kind of work that government should be supporting."

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