UK biofuels body to review impact evidence

The UK's newly established Renewable Fuels Agency has been given one of its first tasks ̵1; a review of the evidence for claims that the environmental impact of biofuel production outweighs its benefits

The move follows publication of a number of papers suggesting that the indirect impacts of biofuel production have not always been taken into account in earlier carbon saving calculations. The results of the study will play a part in the development of UK and EU policies, and will underpin the consideration of EU biofuel targets after 2010.

The RFA, which is chaired by former Environment Agency chief Professor Ed Gallagher, has been set up to report to ministers and Parliament on the impact of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation system which will be introduced in April. Under the RTFO, biofuel suppliers only receive credits for supplying biofuels if they submit a report on the environmental impact of their business.

As well as reviewing recent research and seeking advice from international experts, the Agency will draw on a survey commissioned by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which is due to be published shortly.

Announcing the review, transport secretary Ruth Kelly said that although RTFO data will be taken into account in determining future levels of support for biofuels, targets will also consider the latest scientific evidence about the environmental effects of biofuel production.

"There has been much recent debate around the risks associated with overly rapid expansion of biofuel production, with evidence now emerging on the indirect, or 'displacement' impacts, of growing demand for agricultural production around the world," said Kelly.

"The UK Government takes this issue very seriously. We are not prepared to go beyond current UK target levels for biofuels until we are satisfied it can be done sustainably. This review will ensure that the full economic and environmental impacts of biofuel production are taken into account in the formation of UK policy beyond 2010."

Initial evidence is due to be presented by early summer.

Image: The review will help inform both UK and EU biofuel policy [Europa]

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