By Claire West

Environment Minister Lord Henley has toured an anaerobic digester, as the Government considers how such technology can provide a green energy boost for Britain.

During the fact-finding trip to Northamptonshire, Lord Henley saw how the cutting-edge plant transforms out-of-date supermarket food into electricity.

BiogenGreenfinch’s Westwood plant, near Rushden, can process 45,000 tonnes of food waste each year which generates enough electricity to power nearly 3,000 homes. Most of the electricity is sold to the National Grid.

The visit took place as the Government is drawing up an action plan examining how to achieve a huge increase in anaerobic digestion across the country.

Lord Henley said:

“Today I’ve seen first-hand how food scraps and out-of-date supermarket food is a valuable resource that can generate energy — rather than rubbish to be thrown away.

“As we strive to be the greenest government ever, this is exactly the type of technology we should be looking at, particularly as it cuts greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve already had constructive discussions with industry, farmers and the financial sector. Teams at Defra and DECC (Department for Energy and Climate Change) are now working hard to produce an action plan to examine how we can take practical steps to achieve a step change in the use of anaerobic digestion.”

BiogenGreenfinch CEO Richard Barker said,” We were pleased Lord Henley could see the potential of this innovative technology for himself.

Anaerobic Digestion is the greenest solution for dealing with food waste and we believe that it significantly contributes to both the Government’s landfill diversion and energy targets.”

The Government held roundtable talks earlier this month with representatives from business, farming, the financial sector and experts from the anaerobic digestion sector to discuss how to move forward with the plans.

Defra and DECC will jointly draw up an action plan by the autumn, looking at the economic capacity for the anaerobic digestion industry and the steps to be taken by Government and industry to realise this ambition.