MPs make plea for ‘greener’ fuel to be available by end of the year

The Vivergo plant in Hull is supplied by nearly 900 farms including many in the East Yorkshire area.
The Vivergo plant in Hull is supplied by nearly 900 farms including many in the East Yorkshire area.
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A cross-party group of influential MPs are demanding an end to months of ministerial indecision by urging the Government to introduce a more environmentally friendly fuel by the end of the year.

E10 is a mixture of regular unleaded petrol blended with 10 per cent bioethanol, which is a low carbon renewable fuel that advocates claim would cut carbon emissions equivalent to taking 700,000 cars off the road if it was made available at the pumps.

The fuel is a ready made solution to meeting emissions targets and of great benefit to farmers, MP Neil Parish said, as he joined colleagues in writing a joint letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, and others, urging them to make the fuel available by the end of 2018.

Mr Parish, chairman of the parliamentary watchdog Environment Select Committee, said: “Several Parliamentary Committees have expressed frustration at the slow speed with which we are trying to tackle emissions from road transport whilst also reminding us of the need to keep carbon emissions reductions and air quality tightly bound together.

“Here we have a ready-and-waiting solution which is also of huge benefit to British farmers and it’s about time we got on with implementing it.”

Bioethanol is fermented from feed wheat which is grown by British farmers and is of a lower grade than that considered for human consumption.

As well as the supply chain benefits to farmers, a by-product of the bioenthonal production process is a protein-rich animal feed for livestock which displaces potentially less-sustainable imported soy products.

Around 2,000 farms across the UK rely on the domestic bioethanol market, which is worth around £150m to British agriculture.

Nearly 900 farms across the UK, including many in East Yorkshire, supply 1.1m tonnes of feed wheat a year to Hull-based bioethanol producer Vivergo. The business produces up to 420m litres of bioethanol annually, enough to meet about half of the UK’s current demand, but its £350m plant was shutdown for four months last November due to poor market conditions and a lack of legislative progress on E10.

Now, MPs and other signatories of the letter to Government, including Shadow Transport Minister Karl Turner, former Transport Minister Robert Goodwill, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott and East Yorkshire farmer Lord Haskins, want the Government to mandate E10’s introduction.

It is already widely used in France, Belgium and the USA and typically offers around 60 per cent carbon savings compared to standard petrol.

Hull MP Karl Turner said “very good quality jobs” at Vivergo must be protected as he went on to say: “It’s absolutely essential for farmers. They have been made promises as well and I don’t know why the Government won’t act.”

Mr Turner added: “I have made various enquiries to government ministers and have never been given good enough answers as to why they are not in a rush.

“Industry is expecting it, we have a real problem with emissions and the Government has to deal with that.

“I can’t understand why they are dragging their feet.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to reducing carbon emissions from transport to help tackle climate change, and to making the sector as sustainable as possible.

“Last month we set out ambitious targets to double the use of renewable fuels, reduce our reliance on imported fossil diesel, and deliver emissions savings equal to taking hundreds of thousands of cars off the road by 2032.

“We continue to work closely with the industry and motoring groups to consider a potential introduction of E10 and the role government can play in this.”