Energy Bill [HL]

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 29th March 2004.

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Photo of Baroness Carnegy of Lour Baroness Carnegy of Lour Conservative 6:45 pm, 29th March 2004

My Lords, my noble friend clearly believes that the people who advocate biofuels are over-egging the argument. Should all the set-aside land in the country be turned to that crop, and should we get 3 per cent of our energy from it, it would be wonderful because all that land is useless. In fact, it is a blot on the landscape and it depresses everyone.

As the Minister knows, there is a great problem for farmers: they do not know in what direction they should go because the problems of the CAP are by no means solved. Farmers throughout the country are trying to decide how to react and to respond and it is extremely difficult to know what to do.

From the agricultural point of view alone, to be able to produce a small amount of energy from crops grown for that purpose would be a great help. It would be an objective and eventually help us move away from our false position on funding. Doubtless, that funding will diminish in time if the EU can persuade its members thus. Therefore, the Minister should raise his head a little more when he goes sneaking into the DTI to be briefed on the Bill. It is not merely a question of how much energy can be produced.

I want to counterbalance what was said by my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith. He knows all about farming and will appreciate my comments. However, he was right to point out that it is not a huge part of the whole, but it is an important element and we are being extremely sleepy about it. I speak as someone who lives in an area where a great deal of rape is going to Europe to be processed in the way described by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer. It is extremely depressing.