GRANGEMOUTH is being held back from transitioning into a producer of sustainable aviation fuel due to “regulatory barriers” imposed by the UK Government, according to a minister.

During a meeting of the Grangemouth Future Industry Board on January 18, the head of legal affairs at Petroineos Scotland, Iain Hardie, noted the barriers that existed to Grangemouth developing into a producer of biofuel and sustainable aviation fuel.

Scottish Government Energy Minister Gillian Martin had asked what would be required to turn Grangemouth into a biorefinery and “turn the transition to our advantage”.

However, Hardie said that the UK Government’s cap on hydrotreated esters and fatty acids (HEFA) – a renewable diesel fuel produced from vegetable oils and fats – would need to be addressed to make this possible.

Currently, he said, the cap put British companies at a disadvantage compared to their European neighbours.

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While the European Commission placed no limit on the amount of so-called “green jet fuel” that can be produced for the purpose of sustainable aviation, the UK imposed a cap due to concerns that aviation would monopolise the market for waste biofuels and result in more fossil fuels being produced by the road and maritime sectors.

Hardie said that transitioning Grangemouth to a biorefinery was commercially suboptimal while the cap remained in place.

But UK Minister for Energy Security Graham Stuart said it was "unlikely" that national policy would be reshaped unless is applied to all areas of the UK.

The Scottish Government's Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy Minister, Neil Gray, said the UK Government refusing to change its policy on HEFA unless it applied to areas outside of Scotland was “simply not good enough”.

He said: “It is very welcome that the UK Government committed to considering any proposals that support the long-term sustainable future of Grangemouth – and I have written to the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to follow up on this.

The National: UK Minister for Energy Security Graham Stuart UK Minister for Energy Security Graham Stuart (Image: Westminster)

“However, it is clear that there are serious regulatory barriers to the owners developing some of its most viable new, more sustainable, economic opportunities – such as sustainable aviation fuel.

“We heard that the major barrier to immediate investment in a biorefinery is UK regulation on the feed stock.

“If the message from the UK Government is that it is not going to make changes unless it suits the rest of the UK, then this is simply not good enough.

“Grangemouth’s hard workers and the wider community deserve better – and our future as a net zero country depends on them stepping up.

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“All of us want to see the best possible future for Grangemouth – but the key powers in this area lie at Westminster, and we will continue to push them to make the necessary changes to ensure that it plays a key role in powering Scotland’s drive to net zero.

“On the refinery and on other future opportunities for the Grangemouth site, the Scottish Government stands ready to work with UK ministers to see a sustainable future for the site.”

It comes after the fate of Grangemouth appeared to be sealed as ministers agreed to support its “transition”.

Last year, bosses announced that the refinery could be closed as soon as 2025.