15 Juni 2004

UK: Help Us Fuel Rural Economy …

As Pressure mounts on the Government to act on the price of fuel, a North Lincolnshire farmer is calling for redundant land to be used to produce a cheaper, greener alternative to diesel.

Chris Moore, who is also joint chairman of North Lincolnshire National Farmers’ Union (NFU) wants to be able to use ‘set-aside’ land to grow oil-seed crops in the production of bio-diesel. Under current EU laws, a percentage of all farm land must be set aside, meaning the farmer must grow nothing on it in exchange for EU subsidies.

But Mr Moore, of farmers WF Moore (Warplands) at West Butterwick, feels such a change would assist the rural economy, as many farmers struggle to survive in the current economic climate.

“Many farmers needed to diversify. We decided to go into beetroot, others have gone into leisure. Allowing farmers to grow bio-diesel on set-aside land would go some way to keeping the rural economy afloat,” he said.

Ideally, Mr Moore said he would like to see more done to encourage farmers to grow fuel crops as a main source of income as well as just using set-aside land.

“We are no longer just feeding the nation, we contribute much more now. This is potentially a massive market. This region has always been eco-friendly. We are leaders, we should be pushing forward with this,” he said. “North Lincolnshire is premium farming country, I think we should be at the cutting edge of bio-fuel production.”

Both Humberside Police and North Lincolnshire Council use bio-diesel in their vehicles.

The diesel they use comes primarily from recycled cooking oil from fast-food outlets and restaurants.

Mr Moore has received support from the Scunthorpe Road Haulage Association (RHA), whose members have said they would like to see greater use of bio-fuel for economic as well as environmental reasons.

Frank Lea, of Scunthorpe RHA, said he saw the use of bio-diesel as the answer to rising fuel costs and the associated financial burden on hauliers.

“We have the ability to produce bio-diesel, let’s get on with it. Why should we be at the mercy of the oil producing nations?” said Mr Lea.

Although the prospect of running a car on the produce of a farmer’s field may seem odd, bio-diesel has been about for over a century.

It seems Mr Moore is taking the idea back to its roots, as the man who invented the diesel engine was well aware of the possibilities and the environmental and economic benefits.

Dr Rudolf Diesel actually invented the diesel engine to run on vegetable oil, and, when he showed his engine at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, it was running on a fuel derived from peanut oil.

Prior to his death in 1913 he stated running engines on vegetable oil would help considerably in the development of agriculture of the countries which use it.

He said: “The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today. But such oils may become in course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”

But due to the low cost of mineral oils at the time his engine was modified to run on such oils.

Since 2002, reductions in bio-fuels duty has made the use of bio-diesel economically viable as it is now seen to be the sustainable fuel of the future.

Source: Scunthorpe telegraph vom 2004-06-09.

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