Little environmental benefit seen in biodiesel

The farming lobby has received a setback in its demands for tax breaks to promote the production of biofuels on surplus agricultural land. An official study has concluded that large-scale production of biodiesel would require heavy subsidies and result in very small reductions in CO2 emissions from vehicles, and may give rise to higher emissions of other pollutants and exacerbate nitrate leaching from farm land.1

The study was carried out for the Department of Trade and Industry by the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU). It has considerable significance in the light of last year's European Commission proposal that the rate of excise duty on biofuels should be no more than 10% of the level imposed on unleaded petrol and diesel.

The proposal was designed to create a new source of cash for farmers whose incomes have been cut by the recent reforms

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