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Joined up, long-term thinking please

As befits the end of the year, we have asked people across the industry for their own personal take on 2012.

This week an interesting conference in London was looking considerably further ahead than the next 12 months. Green campaigner Jonathon Porritt spoke at the annual gathering of the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association about the long-term dangers of not prioritising renewable energy over that derived from fossil fuels.

Considering the current balance “flawed”, he blames policy-makers across Government departments for a “schizophrenic” approach to the issues.

He says it is staggering that the chancellor, representing the Treasury, could unveil a strategy for gas as it has done this month without a single reference to biomethane, actively promoted by other departments such as DECC and Defra. A fair point, surely?

He also bemoans what he sees as a British prejudice that subsidy = bad. Investment in anaerobic digestion in Germany, which boasts 7,000 plants, is frequently sold on the 50,000-60,000 jobs it supports - while recognising that the plants also receive state aid.

Instead of a popular view in the UK that subsidies are a waste of taxpayers’ money, Porritt argued that they should be seen as “corrective compensation” to financial benefits enjoyed by the fossil fuel industry.

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