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Defra claims success for anaerobic digestion industry

The anaerobic digestion (AD) industry has grown rapidly in the past four years and is expected to continue to expand in the future, according to Defra.

The department has issued a third update to its 2011 Anaerobic Digestion Strategy, which claimed a number of industry successes while acknowledging that the regulatory framework was still being developed.

The publication’s key findings are:

  • the number of AD plants has increased more than two-fold from a baseline of 68 in 2011 to 140 by September 2014
  • energy produced from AD has increased by four times since 2011
  • new tools by WRAP have helped businesses procure and implement food waste collections
  • the Feedstock Quality Package published by the Renewable Energy Association seeked to reduce plastics and other contaminants in feedstocks for composting and dry AD

Resource minister Dan Rogerson said: “I want us to build on this success. We will continue to work with industry, while providing ongoing support through our grants, the AD Loan Fund and renewable energy subsidies.”

The report noted that officials were considering whether environmental permitting should be extended to AD plants that do not process waste feedstocks.

Charlotte Morton, chief executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association, commented: “Regulation needs to be in proportion to risk. As the Environment Agency’s statement on some farm wastes showed last year, the regulator has been prepared to remove some barriers to the use of ‘wastes’, and that can be a pragmatic step which helps remove barriers for some operators.”

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