Biofuel plant will be boon for arable and livestock sectors

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The official opening of the massive bioethanol Vivergo refinery on Humberside yesterday was welcomed by the English NFU not only for its planned annual consumption of more than one million tonnes of wheat but also for providing half a million tonnes of animal feed.

The Vivergo company was set up six years ago by AB Sugar, the petroleum company BP and the chemical giant Du Pont. Since then some £350 million has been spent on creating the plant on the 25 acre site which will, at full production, produce some 420 million litres of bioethanol annually.

The union said the refinery would not only provide an alternative to fossil fuels through its production of bioethanol but would also reduce the UK’s reliance on imports of soya from the Americas.

A spokesman said the opening of the facility would come as a relief to both the arable and livestock sectors following a difficult 12 months, which saw a below average harvest, the temporary mothballing of an ethanol plant by Ensus and high animal feed prices as a result of the poor weather across the country.

NFU combinable crops board member Brett Askew said: “It’s a boost to farmers to hear that Vivergo will be maximising their potential capacity in the run up to harvest.

“The industry’s troubles have been well documented over the past year and the latest noises emerging from Brussels on common agricultural policy reform have done little to lighten the mood.

“Multiple markets for our produce allows individual farmers the certainty we need to do what we do best and produce to satisfy market demand for food, feed and fuel. We have a responsibility to help drive a sustainable increase in production and the biofuels market can play a role in delivering the necessary economic certainty that will help us all achieve this.”

But he added that policy makers had to take a really close look at the enormous benefits collaboration between the agricultural industry and biofuels sector could deliver.

He hoped they would then provide the consistency in policy making that would allow farmers to not only sustainably feed the country but also to contribute towards a changing energy sector.