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Abstract

In recent years, the multifunctionality of farming activities and diversification of on-farm income sources have increasingly included the generation of renewable energy. The uptake of on-farm anaerobic digestion, however, continues to lag behind other renewable energy sources, notably wind and solar. The purpose of this paper is to provide an in-depth analysis of the policy barriers that might explain this relative absence of anaerobic digestion from UK farming. This is doubly important, given that anaerobic digestion is not only a potential source of renewable energy, but also a means of waste management within certain farming systems. The analysis draws on a mixed-methods research project, with data from 153 responses to a questionnaire sent to farmers in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in March 2016; 18 in-depth interviews with stakeholders in the anaerobic digestion sector; and a workshop that brought together stakeholders in a round-table discussion. The qualitative data are coded and then analysed utilising a model of policy analysis that distinguishes between three levels of policy means and policy ends. The findings of this analysis provide important insights into the challenges of devising a policy that can effectively promote on-farm anaerobic digestion.

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