Farming News - NSA highlights pressure of AD plants & biomass burners on forage stocks following harsh winter & dry summer

NSA highlights pressure of AD plants & biomass burners on forage stocks following harsh winter & dry summer

31 Jul 2018
Livestock / Renewables

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling on policy makers to review the impact energy grant structures are having on the countryside and ensure these issues are addressed post-Brexit.

NSA has long had concerns over the pressure anaerobic digestion plants and large-scale biomass burners place on the sheep sector – and says the current extreme weather has further exacerbated the situation.
 
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, explains: “Forage stocks were completely used up during the harsh winter we experienced, but instead of being able to rebuild stores, the dry weather means sheep farmers are already using winter feeds to sustain flocks due to a shortage of grass. The risk of feed and bedding shortages is fast approaching and costs are rocketing, yet potential feed stock, cereals, maize and grass, as well as straw for biomass, is dedicated to energy production. That is why NSA is calling for a rethink around incentives for AD plants and large-scale biomass burners.
 
“We have already raised serious concerns over crops for energy being eligible for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) as well as Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) and Feed in Tariffs (FiTs), as this is a clear example of dual-funding and distorts the market to the disadvantage of livestock farmers. Dual-funding of land specifically for this form of energy production is particularly unsettling given that growing crops for digesters and burners takes land out of food production, whereas other renewable energy options (such as solar panels and wind turbines) allow grazing to continue but are discounted from BPS.”
 
Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, NSA would like to see a review of support for crop-based renewable energy production with a focus on ensuring land is geared towards food production and that grants and incentives do not distort land and rental values.

Mr Stocker continues: “In an age of increasing concern over food supplies and sustainable land management, NSA finds it deeply concerning that crop based energy production should be disproportionately incentivised. It is even worse that dual use of land for solar and grazing should be positively disadvantaged. So many of the problems are caused by scale, either resulting in structures that damage the landscape or a mass change in crop use in particular regions. NSA would like to see this system reviewed following our exit from the EU. If land being cropped for AD plants was still growing crops for livestock feed, there would be far less concern over the increasing risk of winter feed shortages that are now looking certain.”