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Farmers call for on-farm AD backing

On-farm AD

Farmers have called for improved Government support for anaerobic digestion (AD), saying it is a stable renewable energy that can contribute to the country’s baseload energy needs.

Some 150 people from the UK farming industry, alongside 90 MPs and Peers, will meet this afternoon at an AD themed event at the House of Commons to champion the technology.

The number of on-farm AD plants has doubled to 172 over the past two years alone but support for the technology from the feed-in-tarriff is declining.

Farmers and the AD industry want to see the Government provide more support for the industry to ensure its continued growth. It wants the Government to recognise the benefits that farmers using AD bring as they reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as the use of artificial fertilisers.

Matt Hindle, the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) head of policy, said he was looking for the Government to respond positively to the Fifth Carbon Budget, which recommended that the use of AD on farms was increased to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Hindle said the Government could use some of the RHI budget to make sure there is some funding for small scale biogas heat and, or, use the Common Agricultural Policy to encourage better support, and that Defra should be exploring all possible opportunities.

ADBA’s chief executive, Charlotte Morton, said the event: “[pulls] together AD’s political representatives from across the spectrum to learn first-hand how the technology incorporates easily into existing businesses, helping to improve farming resilience, generate vital baseload energy, improve food production through sustainable crop rotation and nutrient-rich biofertiliser, and contribute to decarbonising the farming, heat and transport sectors.

“To build on this momentum, however, the industry is now seeking support for the considerable non-energy contributions that benefit every UK household, but for which farmers do not receive any recognition.

“We want to see Defra and DECC working closely together to assess how government can support small-scale AD to continue to improve rural farming businesses’ resilience in a policy environment where dwindling incentives challenge its commercial viability at the very point at which it is scaling, and when the Committee on Climate Change are urging action to decarbonise farming.”

Shadow Farming Minister, Nick Smith MP, said: “Anaerobic digestion could be an important tool in our bid to leave this planet as healthy as we found it. Inedible food bound for the scrap heap being turned into cleaner, greener energy is exactly the sort of thinking we should be taking into all walks of life.

“With farm incomes struggling, I would be happy to see more small farms access this technology if it meant less of our waste going to waste.”

Efra chair, Neil Parish said: “Anaerobic digestion is a good clean energy alternative that sees us using more of our planet’s resources and wasting less food. This will enable us to live in a cleaner and greener environment both now and in the future.”

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