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Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

After four years in Parliament, this is my maiden voyage at the Dispatch Box. [Interruption.] Indeed, it is Christmas come early, and it is a gift that the first question I am asked comes from the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon).

The UK sustainable aviation fuel mandate is on track to start on 1 January 2025, with preparatory work on secondary legislation progressing well. We recognise that final decisions on the parameters of the mandate must be taken in a timely way to provide certainty for investment decisions, and we will publish those as soon as possible.

I welcome the Minister to his place and wish him well in his endeavours. It is always a pleasure to see some of the 2019 intake elevated to the Front Bench, so very well done. I thank him for his answer, as the issue of sustainable aviation fuel is important for my constituents. To ensure that we do not overshoot climate targets on the road to jet zero or net zero, will the Government consider introducing the SAF mandate under a greenhouse gas intensity scheme? That is quite a technical question, but I know it is one that the Minister is well up to answering.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that question. I more normally get asked concerns about whether we are going to undershoot the target, rather than overshoot it, but it is a valid question. It is important for us that we are introducing the SAF mandate, and we must give certainty to the industry so that investment comes in. We have funded 13 different companies to set up SAF plants or do development, but we are looking at all the different options and nothing is off the table. We will consider all the different proposals and publish our response to the second consultation as soon as possible.

The Government’s plans to have five sustainable aviation fuel plants under construction by 2025 look doomed. We are falling behind competitors who have a head start on SAF infrastructure, and with hydrogen likely to be the dominant fuel source for aviation beyond SAFs, we also need hydrogen infrastructure. Grangemouth currently supplies Scottish airports with fuel, and has the right feedstocks and infrastructure to turn waste and renewable electricity into jet fuel. What are the Government doing to save Grangemouth as part of a just transition to net zero, and when will we see plans for a contract for difference-type scheme for SAFs?

As I outlined in my previous answer, with SAFs we are generating a whole new industry. It is happening across the world. I spoke at the International Civil Aviation Organisation conference in Dubai, and to aviation Ministers from around the world, and all are trying to promote this industry. We are probably more advanced here than anywhere else in the country, and as I mentioned, we are funding 13 different schemes to get the industry going. I will meet SAF producers in the next couple of days, and we want information from them about what is needed. What is needed is certainty, and there are benefits from across the country in both Scotland and England. There are huge economic benefits from this, and it could create many thousands of jobs.