Vivergo chief urges government to enable greater biofuels benefits

A bird's eye view of the Vivergo plant
A bird's eye view of the Vivergo plant
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EAST YORKSHIRE bio-refinery Vivergo is leading calls for the Government to support initiatives that will give farmers an alternative market for their wheat.

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has reported it is expecting a record UK wheat harvest and with such an abundance of product likely to lead to more price drops for farmers, the managing director of Hull-based Vivergo, Mark Chesworth, said the Government should push forward with the mandatory introduction of E10 – a renewable transport fuel containing 10 per cent bioethanol; one of the products that can be created from animal feed grade wheat.

He said: “E10 represents a fast, cost-effective and straightforward channel for the UK to stabilise the market for farmers and, at the same time, meet EU emissions challenges.

“In transport, E10 will help to reduce global emission levels, mitigate the rapid rate of climate change, and improve air quality. The bioethanol we produce reduces greenhouse gas emission by over 50 per cent compared to petrol.”

He said that by increasing the current five per cent bioethanol blending ratio in petrol, the Government can help to strengthen operations for wheat farmers who would reap more competitive pricing and a more stable market.

Mr Chesworth said Vivergo’s bioethanol manufacture in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire was boosting wheat farmers to the value of £1m per month, compared to much smaller export values, and that the potential exists for greater benefits.

He said: “It’s essential that the UK government is supportive in terms of legislation to increase the current bioethanol blending ratio through E10, so that Vivergo and other UK producers can continue to provide a long-term, sustainable and stable future market for farmers.”

The record wheat yield expected this year has heightened fears of more price drops in the arable sector, cuts that have already left many farmers receiving less for their crops than it costs to produce them.

The NFU survey results show a six per cent wheat yield rise year-on-year, to 9.1 tonnes per hectare.

Richard Bramley, vice chairman of the NFU’s regional crops board, has also told Country Week that the opening up of the biofuels market could help ease the strain caused by low prices.

By 2020, EU member states must ensure that 10 per cent of transport fuel is sourced from renewable sources.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “We have been working with industry and environmental groups to determine what role sustainable biofuels can play in transport, and a number of options are being considered.

“We recognise the significant contribution our biofuels and farming industries make to sustainable fuel production in the UK.”