Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How Green is Our Valley?

Just when you thought that green was the new black it turns out that yellow is in fact set to be the new colour of choice for the discerning – the yellow of oil seed rape. Farmers are being encouraged to give over vast tracts of land to the growing of the yellow stuff to fuel a bio fuel revolution. Under the Scottish Executive's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, at least 5 per cent of transport fuel must come from renewable resources by 2010. Hurrah, another meaningless target.

The trouble is that in growing this stuff it’s then transported hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles in order to have it processed – as far a field as Austria! But don’t despair a new processing plant is coming at Grangemouth. In addition we’ll be importing bio fuels from south East Asia, much of which has been produced at the cost of deforestation. Even Friends of the Earth say the industry has been over-hyped, so it has to be a worry.

Added to which this rush into growing yet more oil seed rape will mean less land available for growing and producing homegrown food which means we’ll have to import more from abroad – so how green is our valley?

Once again the renewables industry is all about making money and bugger the costs in financial and environmental terms. Oh yes, and what about all those people who suffer from the rape fumes? More hospitalization, more medication and more misery. Joined up thinking when to comes to saving the planet eludes our politicians because ultimately big business is what it’s all about.


Bill said...

... ultimately big business is what it’s all about.

Well, up to a point. I think what it is <ultimately all about is that governments in democracies have to pander to the whims (n this case the environmental whims) of voters in a wealthy country where shortages are largely a thing of the past, knowing that they would never get re-elected if they were to propose measures which would actually result in a net reduction of energy consumption and very probably, therefore, radical changes in the way we live our lives. The bio-fuel idea seemed like a good idea until the full implications began to become apparent.

All this pre-supposes that 'global warming' has anything, or much, to do with human impact on the planet. That's another fashionable political mantra which may or may not be true.

Richard Havers said...

Bill, I'm with you on this. I've posted as much before. Not least in that I live at 700 ft in the hills, around us are hills that are about 1200 ft. On the tops of these in the 15th century the monasteries in the Borders had farms on which they were growing wheat and barley. They couldn't manage that at the moment very easily so there must have been a cyclical warming back then too.

ian russell said...

I'm not sure UK grown rape has a high energy yield for alternative fuel oils. I have heard we should stick closer to what comes naturally to our environment such as trees. The problem is it's all about quick-money too - the return on rape is seen much sooner than that of, say, willow.

Richard Havers said...

I've planted some willow Ian. I want to coppic it and build some fences to protect our veg, so that we can grow more and eat less from overseas! Our valley is getting greener!

Heather Yaxley said...

The big concern over the switch to biofuels (apart from it being an easy fix to look green) is that land that should be growing food will be given over to oil crops in parts of the world where food is already an issue.

Just so the western world can continue as lard-arses stuck in our cars for the shortest journeys.

Interesting to see GM say that it is going to bypass biofuels and opt for electric and hydrogen instead though.