This initiative was targeted at the process of persuasion that there was a useful role for AD bringing together representatives of the various UK governmental departments with other stakeholders– including regulators, academics, AD trade bodies, farming bodies and plant designers and manufacturers.
The Biogas Action project in the UK seeks to concentrate efforts on the promotion of small on-farm Anaerobic Digestion (AD) that digests animal wastes (slurry, manure and litter) in order to facilitate best practice in terms of pollution abatement, nutrient and soil management and biogas utilisation.
The team at SWEA knew that the attitude towards AD and biogas varied tremendously within the Welsh Government because contact had been made throughout previous projects (Biogas Regions and Biomethane Regions). As is quite normal within government, the view of AD was skewed dependent upon the departmental perspectives and the common misconception (reinforced by the UK Government support regime) that the technology is solely about renewable energy production. When viewed solely in the light of renewable energy it is hardly surprising that biogas from animal wastes was considered as hopelessly uneconomic – and biogas from energy crops, politically unacceptable and environmentally questionable.
The start of the process of persuasion that there was a useful role for AD was the bringing together of representatives of the various governmental departments with other stakeholders– including regulators, academics, AD trade bodies, farming bodies and plant designers and manufacturers. A consensus emerged that saw AD as a very valuable tool in best agricultural practice for the livestock industry (particularly dairy) and an “Intervention Strategy” was agreed. The agreement of the strategy was a good first step, but there were (and still are) barriers within government to whole-hearted support, and patient and determined “chipping away” is still required.
Aims and Objectives of this Action
Without the support of the Welsh Government there will be no financial support to livestock farmers for the installation of biogas related technology. Welsh Government also strongly influences (and funds) the agricultural advice and support networks that are likely to be essential in disseminating good practice or new/revised regulation.
Getting the support of the Welsh Government for appropriate AD is therefore critical. This is possibly even more critical as the UK leaves the EU and the support regimes for Welsh agriculture are potentially drastically re-shaped.
How this Action could be Replicated
Influencing local,regional and national government is essential virtually everywhere and so the important messages of patience, (gracious) determination, cooperation with key stakeholders and the need to build trust are likely to be key in all circumstances.
Find out more on BiogasAction here