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Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much land is used for (a) biomass, (b) road use biofuel and (c) other energy crops; and what estimate he has made of the amount needed to grow enough biofuel to meet the five per cent. biofuel target for road fuel. (126410)

In 2005, the latest year for which comprehensive data are currently available, a total of around 209,000 hectares was estimated to be used in England for crops purpose-grown for use as industrial materials and bio-energy. Of this total, oilseed rape for biofuel use accounted for nearly 93,000 hectares. This figure relates only to plantings under the Energy Aid Scheme as the end-use for crops not receiving this aid is not known. Energy crops for use in the generation of heat and electricity accounted for around 600 hectares. Plantings of energy crops have increased significantly since 2005, with over 4,500 hectares now in the ground. Biomass also comes from non purpose-grown sources such as straw and woodfuel from forestry operations.

To meet the 5 per cent. transport biofuel target entirely from UK sources would require between 1 to 1.5 million hectares of crops. However, we anticipate that biofuels in the UK will come from a mixture of home-grown and imported crops, recycled vegetable oils and tallow. In the longer term, as technology improves, straw and wood could be used for bioethanol production, so reducing pressure on land.