A deal to get CO2 production back up and running could be struck as early as today, a minister has said, as the Government races against time to prevent food shortages.
Pig farmers have warned they will have to slaughter animals on their land for render because of a growing backlog at abattoirs and processing plants, sparked by the closure of two fertiliser plants last week, which supply 60 per cent of the UK’s commercial carbon dioxide.
The British Retail Consortium said it expected to see food shortages by the end of the week, while pork suppliers warned of “farmageddon” within 10 days.
But Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, said he was hopeful a deal would be agreed today, following “candid” and “fairly frank” conversation with Tony Will, the American owner of CF Industries. Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, has also been involved in talks as it “may come at some cost” to the country.
Asked if the Government was prepared to subsidise a foreign company, he said he was “looking at different ways we can provide support”, and insisted any support would be temporary.
The Government was “averse” to nationalising the company, but he was “prepared to look at every solution” to get production back up and running, Mr Kwarteng told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
He told Sky News: “It’s pretty imminent – this week, we will have a very clear plan to get CO2 production back up again… I am very confident, hopeful, we can sort it out by the end of the week.”
Asked if that would include a subsidy, he told Times Radio the deal would “address” the high cost of natural gas. “The carbon dioxide situation is critical,” Mr Kwarteng added.
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