Biofuel development put on hold

* Official review reveals conclusions * Current biofuel production 'could be harmful' * Outlines a future where it could be sustainable...

Biofuel development put on hold

Britain is expected to slow down its adoption of biofuels following concerns about its overall environmental impact.

The move follows a review by the Renewable Fuels Agency's chairman Professor Ed Gallagher, which investigated the indirect effects of biofuels.

It looked at whether they cause greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to long-term land-use change, leading to higher food prices.

Gallagher concluded:

• The introduction of biofuels should be slowed until effective controls are in place to prevent land-use change (land that is surrendered to crops for fuel instead of for food) and higher food prices;

• There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry, but creating the right policy framework is challenging and will take time;

• Current policies, if left unchecked, will reduce biodiversity and may even cause greenhouse gas emissions rather than savings;

• Increasing demand for biofuels contributes to rising prices for some food commodities, notably oil seeds, that has a detrimental effect on the poor;

• Biofuel production must target idle and marginal land, and we must produce it from waste products and residues. This will avoid indirect land-use change and reduce competition with food;

• Specific incentives are needed to encourage advanced technologies that utilise biofuel crops grown on idle and marginal land.

The review also sets out a reduced rate of biofuel uptake until 2013/14, when it is hoped that a more sustainable way of producing biofuels will be in place.