MARK WHITBY, the founder of consulting engineer Whitbybird, has devised an imaginative way of alerting the British public to the possibilities of oilseed rape as a green fuel: by introducing it as a plotline on Radio 4's The Archers.
Whitby became interested in the crop after one of his children asked him about it during a car journey. After some research, he discovered that a single hectare of rape produces about one tonne of oil, which contains enough energy to heat a house for a year.

He said: "It then occurred to me that getting it on The Archers would be the best way to get people talking about it."

Camilla Fisher, who works on The Archers, said that the proposal had been sent to the story's agricultural editor for consideration.

She said: "The only chap we have growing it at the moment is Brian Aldridge, and he isn't particularly green. Mind you, he did introduce a beetle bank when his daughter was living with him and had some control. On the other hand if there was a profit to be made, another character might take it up."

She added that the BBC would have to check that introducing a plot in which David Archer convinces Ruth of the miraculous nature of the crop did not constitute advertising. "There would have to be about six or seven firms in the sector," she said.

If the BBC does decide to introduce the plot, do not expect it to turn up next Sunday – Archers storylines are worked out about two years in advance.

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