Faced with soaring prices at the petrol pumps, ecologically-minded Britons are turning to fish and chips to run their cars -- transforming the leftover frying oil into "green" fuel. Deep in the southern English countryside, an environmental group spent last weekend teaching 12 men how to transform the abundant vegetable oil from fish and chip shops, but also pubs and restaurants, into biodiesel.
One of the participants, Mike Kempton, who runs a business hiring out limousines, said the prospect of cheap fuel was extremely attractive at a time when oil prices have reached historic highs. "I want to save money, I don't want to be in a position where I'm isolated from fuel and where I can't drive my vehicle. "And I genuinely am concerned about what we're doing to the environment."
The courses are organized by the Low Impact Living Initiative (LILI), a group which has already trained more than a thousand people, and applicants for the scheme increase every time the price of fuel rises. In an added incentive, the British government does not tax the production of biodiesel, providing it does not exceed 2,500 liters per person a year.
Biodiesel made from vegetable oil contains 75% less carbon than its mineral equivalent.
Colin Hygate, the director of Greenfuels, which claims to be Europe's biggest seller of the re-processing equipment, said business was booming as people take a long-term approach. "We see an acceleration whenever there is an issue about fuel security or the cost of fuel at the fuel station," he said. "We are growing year-on-year. Over a four-year period, we have gone from a turnover of less than 100,000 pounds a year to a turnover this year that is looking more like two million pounds. The number of people inquiring about our products has increased from about 10 to 15 contacts a day to between 40 to 50 people and we have had to employ additional sales people to try to cope with the increasing demand."