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Plan for 'Bovine Methane Credits'

Western Morning News |Matt Chorley, London Editor|January 4, 2007
United Kingdom (UK)GeneralPollutionTaxes & Subsidies

Cow flatulence last night became the latest battleground in the fight for the green vote with farmers fearing they could be hit by a new levy.Politicians hit out at the levels of bovine emissions - which now account for about one million tonnes of methane a year in the UK. Whitehall officials are now preparing to get bids to analyse the financial benefits of a scheme which would see farms buying and selling "credits" for the amount of gas their herds produce.


Cow flatulence last night became the latest battleground in the fight for the green vote with farmers fearing they could be hit by a new levy.Politicians hit out at the levels of bovine emissions - which now account for about one million tonnes of methane a year in the UK.

Whitehall officials are now preparing to get bids to analyse the financial benefits of a scheme which would see farms buying and selling "credits" for the amount of gas their herds produce.

But Devon dairy farmer Richard Haddock branded the scheme another example of politicians "jumping on the green bandwagon"."It might seem like a joke subject but for farmers it is a serious issue."

Farmers are already being urged to change their livestock's dietary habits in a bid to cut the levels of greenhouse gases they produce.

And last month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) made a £750,000 investment in research into how changing animal feed could cut methane and nitrogen emissions.

But plans are being drawn up for a "flagship, ground-breaking" proposal to create an emissions trading scheme which would see farmers ... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

     

Cow flatulence last night became the latest battleground in the fight for the green vote with farmers fearing they could be hit by a new levy.Politicians hit out at the levels of bovine emissions - which now account for about one million tonnes of methane a year in the UK.

Whitehall officials are now preparing to get bids to analyse the financial benefits of a scheme which would see farms buying and selling "credits" for the amount of gas their herds produce.

But Devon dairy farmer Richard Haddock branded the scheme another example of politicians "jumping on the green bandwagon"."It might seem like a joke subject but for farmers it is a serious issue."

Farmers are already being urged to change their livestock's dietary habits in a bid to cut the levels of greenhouse gases they produce.

And last month the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) made a £750,000 investment in research into how changing animal feed could cut methane and nitrogen emissions.

But plans are being drawn up for a "flagship, ground-breaking" proposal to create an emissions trading scheme which would see farmers exchanging "credits" for the amount of gas their animals produce.

A Defra spokesman told the WMN a "range of measures" were being considered, including the agricultural emissions trading scheme.

Ministers could set limits on methane emissions and farmers polluting beyond their allowances would be forced to buy credits from those who pollute less.

Mr Haddock, who is chairman of the National Farmers' Union South West dairy board and has up to 1,000 cows, said: "They are trying to punish one farmer against another. They are stealing off Peter to pay Paul - and for what?

"I am prepared to play my part but I want to see the Government do more to help.

"There's a lot as a farmer that I already do to help and I get nothing for that whatsoever."

Defra research suggests that "substantial methane reductions" could be achieved by changing livestock feed.

But it also claims in the longer-term solution it "may be technically feasible to directly reduce emissions" by genetically modifying herds.

Environment Secretary David Miliband used a speech to the farming conference to warn that agriculture now contributes seven per cent of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and more than a fifth of all emissions of methane.

He added that by 2020 farmers should generate less pollution and grow "energy crops" for use in bio-fuels.

Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne insisted farming was in "the front line of the battle against climate change".

"Flatulent livestock emitting methane are beyond a joke, and are a major and growing source of greenhouse gas emissions."


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