Biofuel plants and research in the United Kingdom

According to an article by BBC, the city counsel in Avonmouth, England refused a company’s application to build a biofuel power-plant.  The proposed plant would have used palm oil to produce energy for 25,000 homes.  Most objectors to the plant argued that palm oil production was a primary cause of rainforest devastation.  The council decision was split 6 to 2 against the building of the plant.  Their decision ignored recommendations from planners.  Some accusations have been made that the choice was made based on emotions rather than “planning decisions.”  Either way, the ruling has greater implications.  A number of similar biofuel plants have been proposed around the country and this ruling could impact future rulings, although, the previous approval of one of these plants in Weymouth apparently had no impact on this decision.  Furthermore, Dave Harvey of the BBC claims that to uphold this decision would be to give local “councillors” the right to determine international environmental policy.

However, this local council’s decision affecting national policy does not seem to be in line with Lord Drayson’s.  The BBC reported in January that the Minister of Science, Lord Drayson, had initiated the formation of a new biofuel research center.  This will be known as “The Sustainable Bioenergy Centre.”  There are “hubs” of this center at 6 different, major schools in the country.  Cambridge, Dundee, York and Nottingham are a few of these schools.  The United Kingdom is working to bring biofuel production up to 5% of the total fuel usage by 2013—a revised date that has been shifted from 2012.  This new conglomeration of top-scientists will hopefully work to make biofuel technology better and more feasible.  This new institute is valued at approximately 27 million pounds and will develop “economically competitive and environmentally sound alternatives to fossil fuels.”

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