Scottish firm secures government funding for green fuel technology using whisky by-product

The UK government’s Department for Transport revealed on Monday that Edinburgh-based Celtic Renewables has been awarded £11m in funding to develop greener fuel technology, which will use whisky by-product to be turned into transport fuel at new plant in Scotland.

According to the Department for Transport, the development of biofuels is important in keeping Britain moving forward in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. Celtic Renewables will use waste products from the world-famous whisky industry that would otherwise be disposed, to make fuel for cars and lorries. The latest biofuels use low value waste products to produce high value fuel and are designed to power modes of transport that cannot be electrified, such as heavy lorries or even aircraft, in the near future

In addition, Swindon company Advanced Plasma Power will be given £11m in government funding to help develop biofuels from ordinary household waste and Tees Valley-based company, Nova Pangaea Technologies Ltd, will get £3m to help make biofuels using forestry waste.

The total funding of £25m for biofuel development will help the successful SMEs invest in new premises and technology, helping to generate over 5,000 new jobs by 2030, open up international markets and promote the renewable energy sector. It also means that the Scottish, the Northern Powerhouse, Wiltshire and the UK economy will all benefit from government’s investment in the biofuel development projects.

The latest biofuels use low value waste products to produce high value fuel and will help power modes of transport that cannot be electrified in the near future such as heavy lorries or even aircraft. The UK government competition was introduced to overcome barriers to investment by offering matched funding to support the construction of pre-commercial scale demonstration plants in the UK.

Transport minister Andrew Jones commented:

“This is a great example of the UK government’s commitment to innovative transport technology and supporting jobs and growth.

“Biofuels have an important role to play in keeping Britain moving forward in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way. This £25m is not only a vital investment in technology that will help secure a greener future but will also help support the creation of thousands of jobs.

“Advanced biofuels have the potential to save at least 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the equivalent fossil fuel. The 3 successful bids show how the government is investing in transport and making better, clean journeys.”

Deputy Chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, Julie Hesketh-Laird, added:

“The Scotch Whisky industry is always looking at innovative ways to support Scottish industry and help the environment. Projects that make use of whisky by-products for alternative means are a great example of us working together to find a high-tech solution.

“The production of bio-butanol from draff and pot ale is another example of the industry putting its by-products to a good use to promote sustainability and jobs. There are many such exciting and worthwhile initiatives across the Scotch Whisky industry.”

Scotland’s economy outperforming the rest of the UK

HM Treasury today released the fifth paper in its Scotland analysis series, revealing that as a result of being part of an integrated UK, Scotland is outperforming most other parts of the British Isles.

Scotland benefits by being incorporated in the economic integration with the rest of the UK by having free access to the larger UK market. This enables Scottish companies to trade more goods and services with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the world.

Integrated supply chains also result in Scotland exporting GDP36bn of goods and services to the other parts of the UK. In addition, a common regulatory framework and a highly flexible labour market allows Scottish businesses to recruit the best people from across the whole of the UK. Labour migration between Scotland and the rest of the UK is estimated to be as much as 75%, which allows the sharing of skills and knowledge.

The paper shows that the stability of public spending in Scotland is helped by the broader and more diverse tax base of the integrated UK and that Scotland is protected from economic shocks and the volatility of North Sea oil and gas prices.

Today, deeds have been unveiled by the Chancellor that will give the oil and gas industry long-term certainty on the tax relief they will receive from decommissioning.

The analysis also shows that since 1999, Scotland’s onshore economy has generated 8.3% of the UK’s tax receipts and Scotland has received an average of 9.4% of UK public spending.

Chancellor to the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “Scotland benefits from being a strong part of the UK, and the UK also benefits from Scotland’s place within it. Today, I’m unveiling the final decommissioning deed. This is a concrete example of the tax certainty this government is providing. The industry estimates that this decommissioning certainty will drive at least GBP17 billion of increased investment, extending the life of the North Sea basin.”

Debt advice for Scottish borrowers

At some time in our lives, most of us will borrow money to cover the cost of things like home improvements, upgrading the family car or even treating ourselves from time to time.

However, as a borrower, you’ll also have the responsibility to pay whatever you owe back to your lender/s in full, including any interest. And in the current climate, when budgets are tighter and times are harder for many of us, keeping on top of your debts is crucial – and you shouldn’t hold back on getting some expert debt advice if you need it.

If you’re in the process of repaying debts, here is some practical advice that could keep you on a firm footing with your finances.

Have a budget in place

As long as you can afford to keep up with your monthly payments, your debts shouldn’t become a problem. It’s only once you start making your payments late, or missing them altogether, that your debts could start getting the better of you.

Having a practical, realistic budget in place could help you to ensure that you don’t spend the money you need for your debt repayments on other things – and give you a clear picture of how you spend your money from month to month.

You can visit for more debt advice.

Don’t borrow more than you can manage

If you borrow more money than you need, or can realistically pay back, you could soon find yourself facing debt problems. Before taking out a new loan or applying for a new credit card, for example, it’s important to ask yourself whether you can afford to repay the money in a reasonable timeframe.

It’s also a good idea to repay any existing debts you have in full before committing to any further credit.

Make more than your monthly payments where possible

The main thing is that you make your agreed minimum payments every month. However, you could save yourself a fair bit in interest in the long term – and repay your debts sooner – if you can increase the size of your payments.

If you have some savings you could use, or any money you could ‘free up’ in your budget by cutting back on some of your outgoings, it could really pay off to put this towards your debts and increase your payments. This could help you get out of debt much sooner.

Talk to the experts

Whether you simply want some budgeting advice or you need help with debt problems, getting some debt advice from professionals you can rely on is always a good idea.

If you’re struggling to repay your debts, there are some Scotland-only solutions – such as the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) and Trust Deeds – that could help you, so don’t feel that you have to deal with your debts on your own.

Many Scottish shops and hotels at risk of going under, R3 report claims

Hundreds of retailers and hoteliers in Scotland are at risk of going out of business in the next 12 months, a new report claimed today.

Business recovery organisation R3 said that there was a “high risk” of failure for 274 retail businesses and 30 hotels in Scotland. A further 1,238 retailers and 137 hoteliers are vulnerable to failure over the same period. This means that more than a quarter of shops and nearly a fifth of hotels across the country are at some risk of failure in the next year.

The retail sector is suffering from a lack of consumer confidence as well as changes in way people buy products. The ongoing shift to online shopping is impacting retailers, many of which have not effectively moved online, Scottish R3 spokesman Iain Fraser said.

Retailers that fail to respond to the changes in the sector will cease to exist, he warned.

Compounding the problem of changing retail conditions is the poor state of the economy. Consequently, retailers offering niche or non-essential products will struggle until the economy recovers.

Meanwhile, the hospitality sector also remains vulnerable to the economic gloom because consumers can cut back on their leisure travel and business travel remains subdued. Fraser commented that hotels face the challenge of maintaining reasonable occupancy levels without heavily discounting room rates.

He believes the high capital costs involved in the hotel sector make it likely that many hotel businesses will continue to go under until the market recovers.