Campaigners gear up for a summer of biofuels lobbying

The anti-biofuels lobby is planning a summer of activism following the onset of new government energy legislation this week.

Biofuels: lobbying under way
Biofuels: lobbying under way

On Tuesday, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation came into effect, stating that 2.5 per cent of all fuel sold at UK pumps must consist of biofuels. This requirement will rise to five per cent by 2010.

Friends of the Earth, Oxfam, Greenpeace and the RSPB are fiercely opposed to the five per cent target, as biofuel manufacturing uses photosynthetic plants and can result in deforestation.

Friends of the Earth has told PRWeek it plans to lobby every British MEP one-on-one to discuss biofuels across Europe.

'We still have hope that the British Government will put a halt at 2.5 per cent,' said Friends of the Earth senior campaigner Asad Rehman.

Rehman said that UK activists would lobby MPs, MEPs and renewable committee members, as well as 'indirectly lobbying' the PM.

Rehman added that Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly is 'the person to meet' for campaigning. 'Friends of the Earth held multiple meetings with her,' he said.

So far the RSPB has been leading lobbying efforts against mandatory biofuels targets. 'Its parliamentary office is much bigger, and it has held various meetings and roundtables regarding sustainability,' said Rehman.

On the other side of the debate, the pro-biofuels lobby has been using PR agency The Ceres Partnership, which helped a handful of parties on behalf of agriculture client the HGCA.

Paul Thompson, a policy analyst at trade body the Renewable Energy Association, said: 'We wanted to get some more focused PR experience in. The HGCA had been working with Ceres, which provided that resource for all of us.'

The Renewable Energy Association represents the interests of more than 50 biofuels companies, including energy giants BP and Shell.

But some individual members have used their own PR support to target the national and regional press with their message - for example, biofuels producer Green Fuels retains Trailblazer PR, a Gloucester-based outfit.

Thompson added that the National Farmers Union had been instrumental in media relations on behalf of the pro-biofuels lobby.

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