NFU defends EU biofuels target

The NFU has expressed disappointment at a proposal to scrap the EU's target for a 10% inclusion rate for biofuel in road transport fuels by 2020.

The proposal appeared in a leaked copy of a draft report by Claude Turmes, the European Parliament's lead rapporteur for the draft EU renewable energy directive, and vice chairman of the Green Party in the European Parliament.

Growth of biofuels has been blamed for contributing to the sharp increase in feed costs and worldwide shortages of grain, but NFU vice president Paul Temple said the 10% target was vital if efforts to deal with emissions from the transport sector were to have any success.

"Steps must be taken to reduce transport emissions and biofuels at present represent the only practical renewable alternative to replacing fossil fuels. Of course they must be produced sustainably and British farmers are already proving this can be done," he said.

"Biofuels produced to the British model achieve savings of up to 64% in greenhouse gas emissions compared with petrol or diesel, they are grown in accordance with independently monitored farm assurance standards, and they will yield as much high protein animal feed as they do bioethanol and biodiesel.

"It is also important that we develop more efficient biofuel technologies and for this to happen it is vital that companies and investors have confidence in the long term future of this industry. Simple, comprehensible targets like this will help to give them the confidence to deliver advanced biofuels at a time of record oil prices and concern about the rising impacts of oil exploration."

Mr Temple said the EU needed to take the lead and demonstrate to the world that its markets demanded sustainably produced bioenergy feedstocks and it could only do this by committing itself to a firm biofuels target.

"Doing nothing on biofuels at an EU level means we would lose the fuel security benefits, the rural development opportunities, and the genuine greenhouse gas savings that biofuels can produce.

"And removing the 10% target means the EU would hold no sway over the sustainability standards of the fast-developing international market in biofuels and bioenergy, or any sustainability criteria for other agricultural commodities which may follow."

NFU representatives were due to meet Mr Turmes yesterday in the north east of England to discuss the proposals.

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