NFU Scotland Vice President Bob Howat has outlined how the renewable energy
industry could offer great opportunities for farmers throughout Scotland,
with the potential for them to improve their income and contribute to the
fight against climate change.
Mr Howat was speaking on the subject of biofuels at the Scottish Renewables
Annual Conference in Glasgow yesterday (Tuesday 28 March), on the same day
the UK Government launched its Climate Change Programme 2006. He highlighted
a number of key action points to ensure Scotland's renewable industry could
flourish. These are:
- Long term government commitments to both the biofuel tax rebate and
renewable transport fuel obligation.
- Sensible regulation and planning
rules which encourage renewable developments.
- Effective grant schemes
throughout the supply chain.
- A sustainable return to farmers, potentially
through the direct involvement of farmers in processing ventures.
NFUS has also welcomed the publication today of the report by the Scottish
Parliament's Environment Committee into the production of energy by burning
material such as wood. The Committee has called for a comprehensive strategy
for developing biomass energy, to include in particular a sensible regulatory
framework and simplified grant schemes.
Speaking on biofuels, NFUS Vice President Bob Howat, said:
"CAP reform has been the catalyst for a great deal of hard thinking
on farms up and down the country. The political momentum to develop renewables
has therefore come at the right time as farms look to new potential income
"NFUS pressed for the five per cent renewable inclusion target for
road fuels which the UK Government has now announced. However, that must
be a target for domestic production and not be met by a counter-productive
move to increase biofuel imports. We also need a clearer picture of political
support, in terms of the target and tax rebate beyond 2010. We also need
common sense back in our regulatory system; the ridiculous ban on tallow
should finally make government realise that it has lost the plot on environmental
"But, whilst political action is crucial, at the end of the day, the
involvement of farmers in the biofuel industry will be determined by whether
they can secure a sustainable return. Oilseed rape will always be a commodity
crop and the political excitement for renewables doesn't change that market
reality. Therefore, we must look very closely at farmers being involved in
the industry beyond the farmgate to get rewards from the production process.
We are involved in a number of discussions to that end.
Reacting to the publication of the biomass report by the Holyrood's Environment
Committee, Mr Howat said:
"We gave both written and oral evidence to the Committee during its
inquiry and I am glad to see that many of our points have been taken on board.
It is clear that warm political words on the development of biomass projects
must be translated into action. We need the right framework and that means
developing targeted grant schemes and ensuring our regulatory and planning
systems actually encourage innovation - too often they can be barriers. I
look forward to the Executive's response to the report."
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