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Biofuels

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 3rd May 2006.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour, Stroud

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the threat to biodiversity if biofuels are produced as a single crop.

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

The Department is in regular contact with the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss a whole range of issues related to bio-energy, including the impacts on biodiversity. Most transport biofuel feedstocks will be grown in rotation as part of a mix of several crops on the farm. Production from a mix of feedstocks and replacing crops for food would have a neutral effect on biodiversity. Any replacement of spring sown break crops with winter oilseed rape would have a negative effect on crop diversity and farmland birds. If arable crops replaced natural-regeneration set-aside, this would reduce habitat diversity. In the longer term, as technology improves, straw and wood could be used for bioethanol production without significantly affecting biodiversity.

Research suggests that, in comparison with arable crops, energy crops such as short rotation coppice grown for heat and power generation can encourage biodiversity, particularly for birds and insects.

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No0 people think not

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