Aug 7, 2007

U.K. transportation group suspends biodiesel trials over sustainability issues

London, England – The U.K.-based National Express Group, which operates bus, train, light rail, express coach and airport operations, has suspended its “first generation” U.K. biodiesel bus trial, due to concerns over whether the benefits outweigh the risk to the sustainability of food crop sources.

The Group has called a halt to the trial until “second generation” biofuels, which use non-food crops such as wood chips and straw, are available, or until issues relating to the sustainability of the production have been addressed. The move follows an internal review of the benefits of biodiesel, and consultation with a number of environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, WWF and the Climate Group, who have also raised a number of issues associated with the use of first generation biofuels.

“Biofuels may well have a role to play in helping us to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases arising from transport operations in the future,” says Richard Bowker, Chief Executive. “We are not dismissing the role they may play in the future, but based on the evidence today, I think it is vital that we wait for issues relating to the sustainability of supply are resolved before we press ahead with trials of biodiesel.

“Moving forward, we will continue to look at the options for biodiesel. We will work with our supply chain to ensure that there will be proven technology available which we can use for second generation biofuels when these are available in a few years’ time. The issue with biofuels is complex, and what appears to be the green option may not actually be green after all. NX will continue to focus on delivering the commitments for improving efficiency and making the point that our coach operations are already a low-carbon transport network.”

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