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National Express bus kingpin ditches biofuel trial

Made of plants doesn't always mean green

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

National Express, "the largest scheduled coach provider in Europe," has closed down a biofuels programme which could have seen its vehicles running on 30 per cent-bio diesel.

According to a Press Association report, the coach giant quit on biofuels due to worries that they weren't, in fact, a truly green option.

"The issue with biofuels is complex," said National boss Richard Bowker. "What appears to be the green option may not actually be green after all."

Reportedly the firm had discussed its plans with unnamed environmental pressure groups. Greenpeace, for one, is known to be sceptical about the use of biomass-sourced fuels for transport. The charitably-funded shouty hippies have advocated that biomass should be used mainly in static combined-heat-and-power applications. The UN has said that biofuels might be either good or bad.

It has often been suggested that biofuels which were really bio - that is, which weren't made in plants burning fossil fuels, and which weren't reliant on fossil fuel powered farming - might require such enormous amounts of cropland that there wouldn't be enough for people to eat. Food price rises have already been blamed on biofuel demand. Some scientists think that this difficulty could be solved, albeit by injecting cleanly-generated energy from another source.

"Biofuels may well have a role to play in helping us reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses arising from transport operations in the future," said Bowker, hedging his bets on behalf of National Express.

"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 sustainability of supply to be resolved before we press ahead with trials of biodiesel." ®

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