NFU Scotland attended a meeting yesterday (Wednesday 20 November) with other stakeholders, hosted by Petroineos at Grangemouth Refinery
Petroineos, the only crude oil refinery in Scotland, agreed to host the meeting which included NFU Scotland, fuel suppliers, distributors, UK and Ireland Fuel Distribution Association (UKIFDA) and hauliers, following unprecedented numbers of farmers and crofters raising concern over serious fuel issues.
At the meeting, NFU Scotland representatives raised the issues which have been reported, in huge numbers, by members which include fuel splitting, poor machinery performance and frequently blocked fuel filters.
Since putting out its call to members for information on any fuel issues they might be having, NFU Scotland staff have logged 280 calls on the issue.
At the meeting, Petroineos outlined their commitment to work with all the industries affected by these issues and to find a solution but it also reassured stakeholders that they are producing fuel within the required specification including that for biofuel content.
NFU Scotland acknowledges this willingness to work with industry but is of the view that there is an issue with the specification outlined in EU’s standards relating to biofuel inclusion (EN 14214).
Despite the fuel supply being produced to specification, it has become obvious that there have been issues for some time and this has only been exacerbated by the recent cold spell.
The Union is calling on the UK and Scottish Governments to respond to this industry crisis and provide a derogation on the inclusion of biofuel in diesel until a solution can be found.
NFUS is also calling a for an expert working group including the Union to be convened by the Department of Transport to look specifically at biofuel inclusion for off road vehicles.
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick said: “This is an unprecedented situation for the industry and our members are understandably frustrated to find themselves in a situation where they cannot rely on their machinery to operate as they would expect.
“I am aware that some farmers have been left without transport or machines available to carry out vital tasks such as feeding livestock and carrying out cultivations in addition to significant cost implications.
“Farmers also play a vital role in winter resilience in rural areas by carrying out functions such as snow clearance, so this issue will be of great concern for local authorities. There is also a suggestion that upcoming colder temperatures will further exacerbate the current problems as our members store fuel over winter.
“We recognise that the inclusion of biofuel is to help reduce emissions and has an important role in industry working to mitigate the impacts of climate change. However, the industry cannot function without reliable machinery and continue to bear the associated costs, so a solution must be found as soon as possible.
“That is why I am calling on Scottish and UK Government, as a matter of urgency, to implement a derogation from the inclusion of biofuel until this issue can be resolved’.