TAXPAYERS cash support for the emerging UK hemp industry has been welcomed as a further sign the Government is waking-up to the economic and environmental benefits the sector can deliver.
York University and its partners at the city’s Biorenewables Developments Centre have secured £200,000 from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
This will be channelled into the university’s Hemp-30 project which has the ambitious aim of boosting the UK’s hemp cultivation footprint from 800 hectares to 80,000 hectares.
This comes as senior Government advisors have recently called for an overhaul of the UK’s stringent hemp regulations to free the sector from the restrictive shackles imposed during the decades-long cannabis prohibition era.
Growing Government Awareness Of Hemp
Jamie Bartley, CEO of Unyte Capital, Executive Chair of the recently-launched Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) and Chair of its Hemp sub-group has welcomed the Government’s financial support for the sector.
He said: “The work being funded by BEIS via the York University project Hemp-30 is a good step forwards, it shows an awareness from Government, that Hemp is going to be the viable solution that we need in the UK to ensure a local supply chain for the production and utilisation of biomass.
“With hemp producing four times the biomass that forestry does in the same growth period, increasing food security and following crop yields. We have a great opportunity to maximise the 4.9M acres of arable land in the UK, providing viable sources of biomass to enable the decarbonisation of multiple different sectors.
“The CIC are working in collaboration with DEFRA, the Home Office and Government to lobby for sensible changes to allow the maximisation of the hemp crop, as a tool to achieve the economic and environmental benefit, we all know it can have.
“The CIC are in full support of the Hemp-30 project and will be offering our involvement, data and knowledge to York University and the Bio-renewable development centre.”
BEIS’ £200,000 investment will support the first stage of a ten-year roadmap to share best practice in farming and processing hemp while setting out how a significantly expanded hemp breeding, farming, processing and production industry could be established in the UK.
Hemp’s supporters highlight its versatility as a potential source of bioplastics, insulation and building materials, including hempcrete, and interior panels for the automotive and aerospace industries.
BDC Director Dr Joe Ross said: “Hemp has major untapped potential as a versatile low-carbon raw material that can be used across a range of industries.
“It offers environmental benefits as a fast-growing ‘break’ crop that improves soil health and is very efficient at capturing carbon.”
Professor Ian Graham from the University’s Department of Biology said: “The Hemp-30 project (can) support the development of high value, skilled jobs while addressing the need for low carbon industrial products.”
Energy Minister Lord Callanan said: “We are backing UK innovators to ensure we have a homegrown supply of biomass materials, which is part of our wider plans to continue driving down carbon emissions as we build back greener.”
@It is not just the UK Government which is showing an interest in the hemp sector as German authorities have also recently opened their wallets to support the industry.
German hemp company Signature Products has received a commitment for €800,000 in funding from the state of Baden-Württemberg for the development of a regional hemp protein value chain.