Biofuel champion Dennis Thouless yesterday launched a scathing attack on the Government for failing to support renewable fuels, as he opened his company’s latest biodiesel plant near Dereham.
As the last of the equipment rolled into Global Commodities’ new site on Shipdham Airfield Industrial Estate, adorned with giant banners reading “Biodiesel, cleaner, greener and grown in Norfolk,” Mr Thouless told those who had gathered for the launch that the renewable fuel was still being dogged by heavy duties.
He said that while biofuels were untaxed in Europe British producers were forced to pay duty of 27p per litre.
“Today I voice my anger to the Government and demand Tony gives us at least a 12 pence reduction,” he said. “This will not put us on a level playing field with Europe of course, but it gives us a much-needed start.
“It saddens me to see that once again Britain seriously lags behind its European neighbours. We call upon Tony Blair to take some serious action, bring us on a par with Europe and start seriously supporting biodiesel production in the UK.”
When the new plant, which will replace Global Commodities’ research and development base in Shipdham, begins production in six months time it’s output of 100 million litres a year combined with 250 million litres a year produced at the company’s Hull plant will make Global Commodities the world’s biggest independent biodiesel producer.
And it could also provide a future for many of East Anglia’s farmers, with set-aside land used to grow oil seed rape to make biodiesel, converting dormant farms to the oil fields of the twentyfirst century.
Landowner Viscount Coke, who was at the launch to talk about the impact of biodiesel on farming and the environment, said: “We have a great history of farming in this county and it has been one of the major parts of the local economy, however it is in decline – more and more farmers and in debt or leaving the industry because they can’t make any money.”
“We need to see farmers encouraged to grow rape because if they don’t there is a serious danger of the oil having to be imported and that in itself is not sustainable.”
He added that the National Farmers Union (NFU) calculated that for every 1000 tons of biofuel produced between two and five and a half jobs could be created in farming.
The new factory has cost £1m to build and is made with equipment from a former BP petrol refinery in Crayford, near London.
Mr Thouless said the total cost of the works would have been closer to £23m had the company not managed to acquire the equipment.
The plant’s opening comes just days after British Sugar was granted planning permission for a biofuel refinery on the banks of the River Wissey, in the Fens.
The complex, which could come on stream in early 2007, should produce 50,000 tons of bio-ethanol a year from locally grown sugar beet.
Both biodiesel and bio-ethanol can be mixed with conventional fuels with the product producing less carbon emissions than conventional petrol or diesel and the Government is committed to making 5pc of all fuels being biofuels by the year 2010.
Source: The Business Dec. 02, 2005.