Sir George visited Stoken Farm in Steventon to see a bio-diesel plant in operation. It converts old cooking oil into bio-diesel, which can be used for Combined Heat and Power Units, or as fuel for transport.
"Jim Ebner and Phil Watts live nearby in North Waltham, and bicycle to work at Stoken Farm, where they have rented a building from the local farmer. Jim has recently retired from working with the Ministry of Defence, and Phil was with Vodafone in Newbury. Both men feel passionately about environmental issues, and have invested their savings in this operation."
"The raw material is delivered by tanker, and then processed so it becomes a valuable fuel. They are developing new customers, mainly in the transport field. In the longer term, they would liek to supply central heating oil to North Waltham, which is not on the gas network."
Jim and Phil explained the challenges they faced - with falling pump prices over recent months. The problem has been aggravated by a drafting error in the original Renewable Traffic Fuel Obligation Order - designed to encourage investment in bio-fuels. This error has halved the amount of biofuel required. This year's targets have already been met - so oil companies do not need to supply another litre of biofuel until April.
Sir George said he was very impressed by what he saw. "This is exactly the sort if investment that should be encouraged - reducing dependency on fossil fuel. I will be taking up with Ministers the issues raised by Jim and Phil."