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Fuel Crops

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the CAP mid-term review on the growing of crops for alternative fuel production. [115311]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: CAP reform proposals introduced the concept of a decoupled single income payment with energy crops eligible for an additional "carbon credit" aid of 45 per hectare, capped at 1.5 million hectares across the EU. Compulsory set-aside would have been retained, but the existing derogation to allow non-food, including energy, crops to be grown on it would be removed. We consider that the combination of decoupling together with a further cereals price cut removes the need for land to be taken out of production.The European Commission have now indicated that they may be prepared to make some changes to their original proposal including allowing continued access for non-food crops to set-aside land. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.Detailed negotiations are continuing in Brussels, due to be concluded in June.