SEPT 18, 2009: A Devon smallholder says he is saving £2,000 a year – by making his own biodiesel.

Robin Hampshire, who lives in Mid Devon, told Country Smallholding that his £1,500 kit to make biodiesel very quickly paid for itself. “I am very, very pleased with my system,” he said. “To get the full value of making your own fuel you need to keep below 2,500 litres a year, so that you pay no duty whatsoever,” says Robin, a former chairman of the Devon Association of Smallholders. “If you make 2,501 litres, you pay fuel duty on the whole lot. Since June 2007, although I still have to keep records for Revenue & Customs, I don’t have to send them anywhere.” Robin, who has a 15-acre property at West Brushford, recommends that you find your free oil before you commit yourself to investing in a biodiesel conversion kit. “Chip fat oil is now becoming difficult to find, so make sure that you have got a good, reliable, regular supply,” he says. “The oil must not be too tired out, or used for weeks and then left outside in the air before you collect it.” Oil that has had a lot of frozen food fried in it also contains a lot of emulsified water, which is difficult to clean up, according to Robin. “I now get my oil from a large organisation in Exeter with its own kitchens, in exchange for some duck eggs, which I buy from a neighbour,” he said. “It’s all part of the rural economy. On this system, it means a litre of diesel oil costs me about 10p.” But beware of trying to make biodiesel commercially. “If you pay for raw oil, and duty and VAT, and you have to buy the equipment, then you’ll very quickly find that the price is the same as diesel,” says Robin. Robin obtained his kit from Greenfuels (