Stagecoach should come clean on bio-fuels

I AM a regular passenger on the 55 bus service from Huntingdon to Cambridge. As you have reported, Stagecoach has rolled out a new fleet of environmentally-friendly coaches known as the bio-bus . They are smart and very comfortable and run smoothly and e

I AM a regular passenger on the 55 bus service from Huntingdon to Cambridge.

As you have reported, Stagecoach has rolled out a new fleet of environmentally-friendly coaches known as the 'bio-bus'. They are smart and very comfortable and run smoothly and efficiently.

However, they also heavily advertise the use of biofuels for their running, which reduce CO2 emissions and are a renewable energy source - key factors in the battle against climate change. This can be seen as a leading example to other companies and shows that there are alternatives to our carbon-rich lifestyles.

However, the coaches heavily advertise these facts on their sides in a bid to convince the public of their environmental credentials, and this may be misleading.


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While in theory a good thing, biofuels have a notorious history. First generation biofuels use food crops as well as prime agricultural land to grow other crops such as elephant grass. This, combined with unprecedented droughts (a result of climate change) pushed up food prices last year and can leave people around the globe with little or no food.

Also, growing more crops takes a lot of water and can be devastating in already water-stressed areas, again leading to crop failure and/or desertification. These are key issues in developing nations and have global ramifications.

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I acknowledge that second generation biofuels are better and harvest unconventional crops that do not require as much land or water, such as algae, but I believe that Stagecoach needs to say where the fuel is supplied from.

If it is from sustainable sources and does not damage the environment in other ways, then Stagecoach is on to a winner and has married the need for action with real action - something that we will be seeing more of in the future (electric cars are set to be the next big thing, according to Gordon Brown).

Ethical questions, however, will be raised and, while obviously we all want to reduce our emissions, it cannot be at the expense of vital food supplies, and Stagecoach customers will have a say.

With the aviation industry eyeing biofuels as a panacea to its problems, we need examples of good practice. Where are the fuels sourced, is it sustainable and can it benefit us all?

JOHN NICOLSON

Kestrel Close

Hartford

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