Press release

UK: Draft RTFO amendment order


The UK’s Department for Transport last week laid in Parliament the draft order to implement the road-transport biofuel elements of the European Renewable Energy Directive and Fuel Quality Directive (RED and FQD) into UK law. The UK has had a biofuel obligation on road transport fuel suppliers since 2008, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO). The existing legislation was written before the European Union adopted the RED and FQD, and therefore must be updated, in particular to include new mandatory sustainability criteria. The draft order would amend the RTFO to:

  1. Require that biofuel supplied in the UK meets the sustainability criteria laid out in the RED and FQD. These include ensuring that biofuels have a carbon saving (based on lifecycle analysis of ‘direct’ emissions only) of at least 35% compared to fossil fuel (although many installations will be grandfathered against this requirement until 2013); ensuring that biofuels have not come from specified types of land that had high biodiversity in January 2008 (i.e., high biodiversity land was not recently converted to produce biofuel); ensuring that biofuels have not come from various categories of land that had high carbon stocks in January 2008 (i.e., high carbon stock land was not recently converted to produce biofuel).
  2. Replace the list of eligible types of renewable fuel in the old RTFO with a general definition of renewable fuel including any transport fuel produced from material of biological origin.
  3. Require a mass balance system of chain of custody for sustainability claims (the old RTFO allowed reporting using book and claim systems).
  4. Remove the duty of the administrator of the RTFO to report to Parliament every year.
  5. Maintain the requirement that sustainability claims should be confirmed by a statement from a verifier with appropriate expertise to issue a limited assurance statement based on the international ISAE 3000 standard.
  6. Introduce transitional provisions to allow fuel supplied in 2011 before the adoption of the Order to contribute to suppliers’ obligations under the Order.

Note that the draft order does not introduce any provision for performance-based treatment of renewable fuels (i.e., fuels are credited based on volume, not their assigned GHG savings) beyond the implementation of minimum savings thresholds. It therefore does not at this time directly impose on fuel suppliers the type of carbon accounting implied by the Fuel Quality Directive.

The draft order is available at

There is also an open consultation (until 4 December) on the detailed carbon and sustainability reporting guidelines for the year April 2012 to April 2013. Information is available at

The UK Government responses to consultations on implementation of the RED and FQD are available at and respectively.

For more detail, contact Chris Malins, [email protected]