Dreams come true for green pioneers

Farmer John Seymour in a field of Oil Seed Rape. Picture by FRANK REID. D17017
Farmer John Seymour in a field of Oil Seed Rape. Picture by FRANK REID. D17017

A BUSINESSMAN who pioneered the North-East’s battle to become a biofuel hub watched as inspirational speakers from all over the globe gathered in the region.

John Seymour, who led the fight to bring biofuel to Hartlepool and East Durham, was the chairman of the recent fifth Annual North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) International Bioresources Conference.

One hundred delegates from America, Europe, Asia and Africa gathered at the Vermont Hotel, in Newcastle, to hear of the progress being made in the production of renewable energy, fuels, materials and crops. The whole supply chain was covered, from farming to consumer products being discussed during the day.

Mr Seymour, who is also the chairman of NEPICs Bioresource’s, described the event’s presentations as inspirational.

NEPICs John Brady opened the conference by welcoming the international audience and explaining that the North-East was well on the way to a low carbon industry, with as many as 30 investment projects either delivered or underway.

But there was also an international flavour to the event.

Professor Diane Hildebrandt, of Witwatersrand University in South Africa, described a project to put mobile renewable energy units into small African townships. The units convert a town’s waste to energy and bring cheap power to large portions of the country that currently live without it.

Mr Seymour said: “The partnership between growers and the process industry is growing stronger every day. The way that engineers are working to simplify high tech machinery and processes so that they can be utilised in the poorest of African townships is not only awesome, it is indeed as Professor Hildebrand described –beautiful”.

The Hartlepool Mail first revealed in 1994 how John Seymour was hoping to turn bio-diesel into a major industry for the area.

His plan was to see farmers in the area grow rape seed – the raw product for the fuel – and for a processing and distribution plant to be set up.

NEPIC’s chief executive Stan Higgins said: “Five years ago when we started this series of conferences here in our region we had many talks that were theoretical. Today, we have been told about practical applications of green technology that are working around the world.

“Here in the North-East we are among the leading locations where these new low carbon industries can flourish.

“Many thanks to our many visitors from overseas we hope that our relationships will further strengthen and develop into even more business opportunities.”