Biodiesel (Environmental Impact)

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 30th January 2006.

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Photo of John Hemming John Hemming Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what environmental impact assessment has been carried out into the process that converts vegetable oils into biodiesel of diesel quality.

Photo of Elliot Morley Elliot Morley Minister of State (Climate Change and Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The most common process for converting vegetable oil into biodiesel is trans-esterification. This process is well known from years of use in the oleochemical sector. However, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership will be looking at the specific environmental impacts of biodiesel processing as part of their work on developing draft environmental standards for biofuels. The impacts in terms of pollution to air, land and water are controlled by the Environment Agency. A pollution prevention control permit is required where biodiesel is being produced for own-use by six or more people or for commercial operations producing more than 5,000 litres a year. The processing of biodiesel from waste cooking oil and tallow is also subject to waste management controls. Various studies have assessed the greenhouse gas impact across the whole production process from raw material to finished biodiesel. UK-produced biodiesel typically gives greenhouse gas savings of around 55 per cent. compared to fossil diesel.

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