Power struggle – On-farm AD and the general election

The snap general election called for 8 June is currently the talk of the town, and things are no different for the on-farm anaerobic digestion (AD) industry, which, like other areas of agriculture, is invariably affected by changes in government policy. So what does the calling of the general election mean for on-farm AD?

Short-term impacts

The immediate impact of the snap election has been to bring the business of government to a halt. This has left the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy unable to pass emergency legislation to update the degression triggers in the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a key financial support mechanism for on-farm AD. This essentially means that the current biomethane tariff could fall by 5% on 1 July, and by a further 5% if the proposed new legislation is not in place by 1 October. The delays to the RHI legislation are leading to delays in AD plants being built, costing farmers and landowners money.

“Politicians will never pass up a photo op in a hard hat”

Canvassing for on-farm AD

Despite these delays, the calling of a general election does present a great opportunity to feed into political parties’ manifestos, which are now hastily being drawn up. ADBA has called on all parties to recognise the value of AD in their manifestos and has outlined three key asks for the AD
industry, which include calling for the reintroduction of RHI legislation as soon as possible and supporting UK farmers, firstly by restoring viable tariffs to the Feed-in Tariff scheme and secondly by removing the AD capacity cap.

The next few weeks are also a great chance for farmers to tell parliamentary candidates in their local area about the benefits of on-farm AD. These candidates will spend the next month tramping across their constituencies, meeting voters, debating each other, and, importantly, visiting local businesses and talking to the press.

ADBA therefore this week encouraged our members to write to the candidates in their constituency to invite them to visit their local AD plant, whilst underlining the benefits of AD in supporting the rural economy, restoring our degraded soils, and providing low-carbon heat, power, and transport fuel for direct use on farms. A visit from a potential MP can help to raise the profile of an AD plant and of on-farm AD more broadly, especially if the local press come along too – politicians will never pass up a photo op in a hard hat! And of course, if the candidate who visits the plant is subsequently elected, a great base for future engagement between the plant owner and the MP is already in place.

Assessing the fallout

The implications of Brexit and a new government for on-farm AD will be a key theme of ADBA’s UK AD & Biogas tradeshow, which will take place at the NEC in Birmingham less than a month after the election results are announced. This year UK AD & Biogas is joining with the World Biogas Expo to create the #1 global tradeshow for biogas, inviting farmers and agricultural experts from around the world to share knowledge and best practice. You can register for free to attend the show at

No matter who wins on 8 June, ADBA will continue to press the new Government on recognising the role of on-farm AD as part of a modern Industrial Strategy and ensuring a sustainable funding and incentive system. We want to make sure that sustainable farming is the real winner this summer.

Farmland Magazine

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Charlotte Morton

Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA)

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