General newsTuesday, May 10, 2022

UK Government recognises vital role of vertical farming at Downing Street’s ‘Spring Showcase'

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers welcomed vertical farming technology developers, IGS, as part of a showcase of British-tech innovators
  • IGS called upon government to establish a similar tax rebate for green energy to that available on red diesel to enable wider adoption of sustainable indoor growing techniques

IGS Limited exhibited at 10 Downing Street’s ‘Spring Showcase’, an event to celebrate the most exciting and innovative tech businesses in the UK food and agriculture industry.

IGS, which manufactures vertical farming solutions, was one of three technology businesses invited to participate in this year’s event, which was attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and fellow ministers.

The agritech business used an immersive VR experience to demonstrate to Boris Johnson and other invited VIP guests how IGS’ industry-leading growth towers are revolutionising the indoor growing market. Members of IGS’ team gave the Prime Minister a virtual tour of the business’ Crop Research Centre in Dundee, showcasing the wide range of crops that can be grown in its precision-controlled environment including herbs and leafy greens, chilies, edible flowers and even tree seedlings.

Vertical farming is just one of the new sustainable methods of farming that is being introduced to help the agriculture sector meet net-zero goals, in line with the pledges made at COP26. IGS’ vertical farming systems offer a greater crop yield while recycling up to 95% of the water used, and have been designed to be used alongside and complement traditional farming methods.

Speaking at today’s showcase, IGS Chief Operating Officer Andrew Lloyd said: “It’s an absolute privilege to be invited to 10 Downing Street for this year's Spring Showcase. We’re seeing a lot of companies innovate in the food and agriculture industry and it’s an honor to be recognised as a vertical farming leader in this year’s cohort.

“Vertical farming solutions, when used alongside traditional farming methods, can - and should - play an important role in reducing emissions in agriculture while also supporting food security initiatives. We were delighted to have the opportunity to highlight this to the Prime Minister and to showcase IGS’ ambitions for the future.

“With that in mind, we hope that Government takes seriously our proposal to change how vertical farms are recognised with regards to planning so that we can speed up the process of getting them built around the country and provide fresh, sustainably and locally-sourced food for all British citizens.”

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, said: "It's so exciting to see the fruits of the vertical farming technology, pioneered by Scottish firm Intelligent Growth Solutions, on display at Downing Street's spring showcase.

"At their facility in Dundee recently, I could see first-hand how they're embracing this new technology to work hand-in-hand with traditional farming methods to ensure the UK's food industry remains a world-leading force. We are making the most of our natural resources and scientific expertise to deliver tangible results and protect our future food security."

While at the showcase, Andrew Lloyd used the opportunity to discuss some of the major challenges affecting sustainable agriculture and the adoption of vertical farming. These included:

  1. Encourage greater investment in the indoor growing industry:
    A discount on the tax of renewable electricity used for growing food to help stimulate investment in and use of vertical farms, to support net zero targets while leveling up the support for vertical farmers and encouraging wider adoption.
  1. Evolve outdated planning processes to speed up implementation:
    Amending the planning legislation for building vertical farms, which would change the use class from a ‘building’ to a ‘growing machine’, to reduce the time and cost associated with gaining planning approval.
  2. Take full advantage of brownfield and vacant land:
    Encouraging the use of brownfield for vertical farming locations, to bring farming and fresh, affordable, nutritious food into the centre of the urban communities where it is needed most.
Written by

Georgia Lea

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