Pressure mounts on UK government to include biomethane in clean air plans

The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) has called for the UK government to make buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) fuelled by biomethane central to its Clean Air Strategy, joining a growing push for biomethane to become a key part of the UKs drive to clean up its fuel sources.

The call comes as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) unveils its plan to deliver nitrogen dioxide compliance in UK towns and cities as part of its broader Clean Air Strategy.

Following a legal battle, the government was ordered by the High Court to produce new plans to deal with illegal levels of the harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide. The new Clean Air Strategy is the government’s response to the High Court ruling, and among other things is set to favour electric cars. The measures unveiled include £225 million of funding for local authorities to crack down on roadside emissions, including from buses and other types of public transport.

Local councils will be required to produce local air quality plans that reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time, while local authorities will be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements that will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include upgrading bus fleets.

Under the new measures, van drivers will have the right to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas powered.

In a statement, ADBA says the UK AD industry has sufficient capacity to power the UK’s entire bus fleet, while the use of biomethane for buses and HGVs has grown in recent years over concerns about the environmental and financial price of fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, on the same day that ADBA made its call to the government, a newly published study revealed that HGVs fuelled with biomethane from the UKs first compressed gas filling station in Leyland had 84% lower CO2 emissions than diesel fuelled equivalent vehicles.


“Scandalous” levels of air pollution

“The use of biomethane derived from well-managed feedstocks as vehicular fuel can help to reduce the scandalous levels of air pollution we see in towns and cities across the UK, costing thousands of lives each year,” said Charlotte Morton, ADBA chief executive.

“Local authorities reading the Government’s air quality plans now have the perfect opportunity to follow the example of Nottingham City Transport and others in rolling out biomethane-fuelled municipal bus fleets, which can make huge improvements to air quality in the UK’s towns and cities.

“Over the short to medium term, biomethane presents the only practical means of decarbonising HGVs, buses and non-road mobile machinery. While biomethane has the potential to power every HGV in the country and some pioneers have grasped this opportunity, far more support is needed from government to make it easier for others to follow their example.

“It’s critical that the Government urgently delivers a robust response to the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation consultation that concluded in January. Long-term support for AD is crucial for reducing emissions from the difficult-to-decarbonise transport sector and for improving air quality in our cities and towns to save lives.”

This article was written by Daryl Worthington, assistant editor, Bioenergy Insight

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