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'Government have failed on anaerobic digestion' warns Farron

March 3, 2009 3:07 PM

Just two weeks after Defra Minister Jane Kennedy addressed the NFU conference to unveil the Government's vision to boost the UK's capability for anaerobic digestion, Liberal Democrat Defra Spokesman Tim Farron MP has branded the Government responsible for its lack of development.

A question tabled by Mr Farron in parliament revealed that Defra had spent just £400,000 on research into anaerobic digestion during the last six years. This included funding for research into on-farm techniques and their impacts on the environment and on reducing greenhouse emissions.

Across Europe there are a large number of on-farm digesters in operation, with Germany, for example having over 2,500 working on-farm digesters in place. In contrast, there are only about 30 large on-farm digesters operating within the UK, which has led Mr Farron to question the Government's failure to keep pace with other European nations.

Mr Farron has reiterated his call for Defra to encourage the development of the technology by issuing "green loans" for farmers considering diversifying into anaerobic digestion. The money would be used to cover the initial expense of purchasing an anaerobic digester and would be paid back over an agreed period of time.

Commenting Mr Farron said:

"Only two weeks ago Jane Kennedy told the NFU conference that anaerobic digestion was an 'underused technology'. But what she forgot to mention was that it was the Government's fault that uptake for technology had been so slow in the first place.

"This Government has made huge noises about the importance of investing in green and modern technology, but it's pretty obvious when compared to other countries like Germany that we are light years behind the curve.

"Spending less than £400,000 over a six year period on research into a technology with the potential to produce enough heat and power to run more than 2million homes smacks me of a Government which has drastically underestimated the potential of anaerobic digestion.

"Defra should give serious consideration to providing farmers with a 'green loan', which would help cover the initial start-up costs of setting up an on-farm digester and would go some way to re-establishing the UK as leader in agricultural technology. "

1. Parliamentary Question tabled by Tim Farron MP http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2009-02-24b.257426.h&s=Tim+Farron#g257426.q0