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Friday, October 7, 2011

First British Biofuel Flight Met by Naked Protesters

Daily Mail: A planeload of British holidaymakers have made aviation history by flying to Lanzarote on a plane fueled by used chip pan oil.

The Thomson Airways flight from Birmingham airport was the first UK commercial biofuels flight ever from a UK airport.

One of the engines on the twin- engined Boeing 757 flight was operated on a 50 per cent blend of 'Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids', produced from used cooking oil, and 50 per cent Jet A1 fuel.

But environmental protesters stripped naked and covered themselves in red body paint in a bid to disrupt the launch. Calling themselves Plane Stupid they said that rainforests were being wrecked to make way for biofuel plantations. The cooking oil used for the Thomson flights is collected from the kitchens of hotels and restaurants and then goes through a special processing treatment.

Carl Gissing, director of customer service at Thomson Airways, admitted that the biofuel cost around five to six times the price of aviation fuel, but said the airline was prepared to 'put its money where our mouth is' because it believed in sustainable biofuels.

Mr Gissing said: 'We are proud to be leading the way with the first commercial biofuel flights and we hope it will make people sit up and take notice.'

Mr Gissing said the move was designed to make a statement which it was hoped would lead to industry and governments investing in developing fuels which would reduce carbon emissions. After today's light, carrying 232 passengers, there will be a six-week gap before Thomson starts a full programme of biofuel flights in 2012 from Birmingham Airport.

Dirk Konemeijer, managing director of skyNRG, which supplies the biofuel, said it made sense to utilise used cooking oil because it was a waste product which couldn't be used for anything else. It was not economically viable at present to supply the whole of the aviation industry with the fuel and that was why government support was needed. Long-term other technology was necessary, and in three to four years a totally new fuel could come along.

Joe Peacock, from Birmingham Friends of the Earth, however, said: 'We cannot ignore the massive environmental and social problems caused by trying to feed our addiction to fossil fuels with plant-based alternatives.'

Plane Stupid protester Chris Cooper said: 'Thomson seem to be acknowledging that we can't continue business as usual in the face of the current climate emergency. It's a shame their solution is to make matters worse. Vast tracts of rainforest, eco systems vital to halting climate change, are currently being trashed to make way for biofuel plantations. Land that grows food is being stolen from some of the world's poorest people so that it can start feeding planes. It's a disaster.'

1 comment:

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