Anaerobic digestion firms slam subsidy cuts

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Refood's anaerobic digestion plant for food waste at PDM
Refood's anaerobic digestion plant for food waste at PDM

Related tags Anaerobic digestion

Close to 350 anaerobic digestion (AD) schemes in the food and drink sector are at risk if the government continues with its latest plans to reform the Feed-in Tariff scheme, the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association (ADBA) has claimed.

At the end of August the Department of Energy and Climate Change launched a consultation, which included plans to cut back the support for new AD plants from January 2016. The government is concerned about the costs to consumers of supporting the renewable energy sources.

The ADBA has opposed the move, claiming it will hinder future development. “There has been big growth and a large amount of that is due to government support since 2010,”​ said ADBA head of policy Matt Hindle.

Intense pressure

The food industry has come under intense pressure to deal with the issue of food waste. AD is recognised as an environmentally-friendly way of disposing of food waste that can be recycled and turned into renewable energy.

Currently, there are around 400 AD plants across the country with 28 of those in food factories, distilleries and breweries and 50 commercial plants that collect waste from food factories and retail outlets such as restaurants. In 2010, there were only 13 on-site and 10 commercial plants.

“We are aware of 20 on-site industrial plants in the planning system and another 60 to 70 in the commercial system and also 250 farms. Those are the sort of projects that will be at risk,” ​said Hindle.

Biggest environmental benefit

“DEFRA​ [the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] has said it is the treatment option for food waste that gets the most environmental benefit.”

ADBA claimed the government’s “cost cutting”​ exercise failed to take into account the longer term benefits such as avoiding landfill.

ADBA has also revealed that the government plans are already having a “crippling impact” ​with £250M of investment on hold.

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