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Renewable Fuels Agency closes

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The Agency tasked with regulating biofuels entering the UK market and encouraging their sustainability will close its doors for the last time this week.

On Thursday, 31 March the Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) will be dissolved as part of a wider review of arms-length government bodies. Its duties will be transferred to the Department for Transport.

The Agency’s Board held a final meeting on 22 March, 2011.

I am very proud of the Agency’s record and believe its actions have led to demonstrably more sustainable supplies of biofuels and delivered better social and environmental outcomes throughout the supply chain,” said Professor Ed Gallagher, Chairman of the Agency.

“I would like publicly to thank those who have served with me on the Board, helping to shape and steer the Agency, enabling it to carry out its duties in an exemplary manner and quickly establishing its reputation as an effective, well-run regulator, something confirmed by regular independent reviews of our performance.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the staff who have worked so hard and conducted themselves with commendable professionalism during this transitional period in what have, at times, been difficult circumstances. The Board has made every effort to ensure the best outcome for the staff and all permanent employees are to be transferred to the Department for Transport where they will continue to use the expertise they have developed at the RFA as part of the Department’s Low Carbon Fuels team.”

Nick Goodall, CEO of the Agency, said: “The RFA has published world-class reports and research and I think all those involved in its work can take pride in the legacy it will leave behind.

“Our staff care about their work and the evidence is in their internationally respected output. I’m proud to have led the team that showed the way for biofuels to be sustainable.”

In its brief history, the Renewable Fuels Agency has been responsible for several achievements that went beyond good practice and set the scene for a more sustainable supply of biofuels.

Above all, it has established a system allowing the provenance of fuels to be tracked from farm to fuel supplier.

This has made possible an assessment of the likely environmental risks and benefits of a given batch of fuel, allowing industry to make better-informed decisions whilst ensuring greater transparency and accountability.

  • It has delivered real, demonstrable changes in the procurement policy of major oil companies leading to better environmental and social outcomes – many of the obligated suppliers’ annual sustainability reports outline how they have been influenced by the RTFO with some reporting real changes to their biofuel strategy in response to the regulation or conversations with the RFA.
  • It successfully administered the first attempt to regulate the sustainability of biofuel in the world, years ahead of any concrete developments elsewhere.
  • It published the Gallagher Review, one of the first studies to take an in depth look at the possible impacts of Indirect Land Use Change (iLUC). This was a ground-breaking piece of work that is often referenced today and continues to influence policy globally in this area.
  • The Agency has built up a high degree of institutional expertise as reflected in its reports and management of the RTFO.
  • It has produced the figures that back up the assumption that there are good biofuels and bad biofuels – its regular reports cut through the background chatter and allow comparison of feedstocks based on facts rather than opinion.