National Farmers’ Union backs UK biomass campaign

National Farmers’ Union backs UK biomass campaign

National Farmers’ Union backs UK biomass campaign

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has pledged its support to the UK Biomass Heat Works! campaign, calling on the UK Government to ‘act now’ on protecting the industry. The campaign group is calling for the protection of around 46,000 bioenergy jobs, extending the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and raising fossil fuel duties to help meet the country’s carbon emission targets.

The NFU, which has some 55,000 members, has extended its support to the Biomass Heat Works! campaign following the launch of its plans to cut carbon emissions to net zero in the farming sector by 2040. Many members of the NFU have diversified into using biomass as a renewable heat source. Biomass in rural areas can contribute to ‘workable circular economies’, according to Biomass Heat Works!, across farming, agriculture and forestry sectors.

“We’re delighted that the NFU has pledged its support to the campaign as a vast number of its members up and down the country are advocates of biomass heat,” said Neil Holland of the UK Pellet Council, which works in partnership with the Biomass Heat Works! campaign.

“There is a much bigger picture that the government needs to urgently consider here, and that is by extending the RHI and specifying biomass as the most proven and commercially-ready solution to decarbonising heat in rural areas, we can also create a highly sustainable rural economy, good employment opportunities and business growth in agricultural industries going forward.”

Holland added that the UK biomass industry employs almost four times the number of those working in the fishing industry and 30% of non-domestic biomass capacity is within the agricultural sector. He said: “Therefore, government support and investment in the biomass sector, as in other European countries, would make a significant contribution to the 2050 carbon reduction targets whilst making rural businesses more resilient and homes more energy efficient.”

Dr Jonathan Scurlock, chief advisor of renewable energy and climate change at the NFU, added: “The farming industry is fully committed to realising its net zero vision and there are clear environmental and economic benefits for farmers by taking action now.

“The Biomass Heat Works! campaign sends a clear message to the government and demonstrates how renewable energy, in particular, biomass, must play an integral role in the UK’s future energy mix, especially in rural areas which sits very well alongside our own net zero ambitions.”

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Environment Agency to review regulation of bio waste sector

Environment Agency to review regulation of bio waste sector

Environment Agency to review regulation of biowaste sector

A review into the biowaste sector is to be launched by the Environment Agency, as it looks to embed recent changes to legislation into its work.

The Environment Agency is launching a review into the bio waste sector

The review, which will incorporate the anaerobic digestion and composting industries, will ensure that operators are regulated ‘consistently’ and in line with the objectives of the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan a.

A standard rules consultation will be published in early Autumn. Legislation which will be brought in includes the EU’s Industrial Emissions Directive, which looks to reduce harmful industrial emissions, in particular through better application of Best Available Techniques (BAT).

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The aim of the review of permitted sites is to ensure the bio-waste sector continues to grow and develop in a sustainable and efficient way, providing benefits to communities and the environment.

“The review has developed with input from industry representatives from the bio-waste sector, ensuring we are well sighted on opportunities and issues.”

The bio waste sector covers composting, anaerobic digestion and mechanical biological treatment.

The review will begin with bespoke Installations permits, with sites with the highest risk or poorest performance being prioritised. The agency will formally request information from operators on their processes and pollution control measures. Waste operation permits are set to undergo a similar process beginning in late Autumn.

“The important thing is we are given adequate time for any changes which are implemented and we are given chances to discuss and have dialogue with the agency.”

Jeremy Jacobs – technical director at the Renewable Energy Association and an expert on organics recycling – said he was pleased to see focus on the sector as long as industry was involved in discussion with the Environment Agency on any potential changes in regulatory approach.

He explained: “What is important for us is that we have got regulation which is proportionate, affordable and one which provides good environmental benefits.

“The important thing is we are given adequate time for any changes which are implemented and we are given chances to discuss and have dialogue with the agency.”

Mr Jacobs added that the Environment Agency needed to take an approach which “has a carrot as well as a stick,” suggesting self-regulation should be brought in for better performing sites.

He also encouraged the government body to look beyond those processing bio waste, especially when it came to tackling plastic contamination in organic waste.

“We welcome opportunity for Environment Agency to look further upstream at where waste comes from and some of the origins of waste,” Mr Jacobs commented.

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Biomass campaign group calls on UK Government to extend RHI scheme

Biomass campaign group calls on UK Government to extend RHI scheme

Biomass campaign group calls on UK Government to extend RHI scheme

Campaign group Biomass Heat Works! has called on the UK Government to extend the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme beyond 2021.

The statement follows the publication of a new bioenergy report on 5 September by the Renewable Energy Association (REA). Leaders from the biomass industry including the UK Pellet Council (UKPC) and Wood Heat Association (WHA), which are behind the Biomass Heat Works! campaign, are urging ministers to act immediately.

The organisation is calling on the government to specify biomass as ‘the most proven solution for addressing heat decarbonisation’, particularly in rural areas.

An extension of the RHI scheme would allow new renewable heat projects to be funded, supporting the UK in meeting its EU targets by 2020 (12% heat source) and its net zero pledge. At present, no measures have been tabled by the UK Government for when the RHI scheme closes to new applications in 2021.

Mark Lebus, chair of the UK Pellet Council said: “Time is running out and this latest report backs our call for the government to fully support and invest in the UK’s biomass heat industry.

“Ministers need to address the heat decarbonisation issue here and now, and enable the most effective, commercially-ready and proven low-carbon solution, i.e. biomass, to play an integral role in delivering their objectives and reducing carbon emissions.

“The biomass heat industry supports circa 700+ supply chain companies and this must be protected, especially in rural communities where biomass can create a workable circular economy across farming, agriculture and forestry sectors. It is often the most viable and lowest carbon option available to businesses and households in off-gas grid areas.”

According to Biomass Heat Works!, renewable heat generation increased by 11% in 2018 with nearly 50% attributed to biomass. However, the UK is lagging behind its European Union counterparts.

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Wensleydale Creamery will supply whey to a local biogas plant

Wensleydale Creamery will supply whey to a local biogas plant

Wensleydale Creamery will supply whey to a local biogas plant Energy derived from cheese to power Yorkshire homes

An English creamery is now using its by-products to create biogas in a new sustainable energy project. Yorkshire cheese producer Wensleydale Creamery will supply whey – which was previously discarded – to a local biogas plant to generate 10,000 MWh of thermal power, enough to heat 800 homes per year.

Wensleydale Creamery produces around 4,000 tonnes of cheese annually and will use its valuable by-products to support the Leeming Biogas plant in North Yorkshire, run by Iona Capital. Here, the plant will process the leftover whey permeate and turn it into nearly one million cubic metres of green gas.

Mike Dunn, co-founder of Iona Capital, said: “This partnership with Wensleydale not only shows how we are turning waste food products into useful energy for homes and business, but also our commitment to Yorkshire.

“Once we have converted the cheese by-product supplied by Wensleydale into sustainable green gas, we can feed what’s left at the end of the process onto neighbouring farmland to improve local topsoil quality.”

Converting cheese into power isn’t an entirely new concept. First Milk’s cheese factory in Cumbria has its very own on-site power plant which converts whey into biogas. Other countries using this method include France, Italy, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

“The whole process of converting milk to a premium cheese and then deriving environmental and economic benefits from the natural by-products is an essential part of our business plan as a proud rural business,” said David Hartley, managing director of Wensleydale Creamery.

“It is only possible as a result of significant and continued investments in our Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes and to sign this agreement and have the opportunity to convert a valuable by-product of cheese making into energy that will power hundreds of homes across the region will be fantastic for everyone involved.”

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