SCOTCH whisky distilleries are to benefit from a new £10 million fund to help them go green.

The money is being made available as part of a UK Government scheme aimed at kick-starting green innovation across Scotland’s iconic distillery industry.

The move gives backing to distilleries to harness energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste to power their operations.

The funding will help prevent pollution equivalent to emissions from 100,000 cars from entering the atmosphere, contributing towards the UK’s legally-binding target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, announced the opening of the £10m fund yesterday.

He said: “Our plan to deliver a carbon-neutral future doesn’t just mean new jobs in new industries but helping some of our oldest industries to play their part as well.

“Scottish distilleries will not only be producing iconic drinks enjoyed the world over, but will now also be blazing a trail by developing cutting-edge, low-carbon technologies in the process.

“We want to harness the tremendous innovation of our distilleries so customers can enjoy their favourite tipple in the knowledge they are helping us to tackle climate change.”

In 2019, the UK distilleries industry grew by 20 per cent, demonstrating the opportunity for the sector to be at the heart of a clean and resilient recovery.

The funding has been welcomed by trade bodies in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, which are home to the vast majority of the UK’s worldfamous distilleries.

Scotland is home to 133 malt and grain distilleries – the greatest concentration of whisky producers in the world.

Dagmar Droogsma, director of industry at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “The Scotch Whisky industry welcomed the new Green Distilling Fund announced in the March Budget as an important step on our sustainability journey.

“The use of innovative technology is among several approaches that the industry could adopt as it works towards net-zero by 2045, as outlined in our recent net zero report.

“This fund will provide us with the opportunity to put forward bids for demonstration projects for so-far untested technologies, helping the Scotch whisky industry play its part in reaching Scotland’s emissions targets.”

Michael Bell, executive director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, said: “Greening is essential to our industry’s future and this is to be welcomed. Interestingly, in the past five years I’ve seen more distilleries in Northern Ireland than in the last 50.

“It’s good to see the Government investing in food and drink businesses.”

Greening distillery operations in Scotland and across the rest of the UK will help contribute towards its legallybinding target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The funding comes as the UK Government continues to ramp up its green economic recovery from coronavirus ahead of hosting the UN Climate Change talks (COP26) in November next year.

Visiting Benromach Distillery in Speyside, UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said Scotland was world famous for its whisky and gin distilleries.

“They are one of our greatest success stories and, as I have seen for myself at Benromach Distillery, are at the heart of our local communities employing over 11,000 people many in our rural areas,” he said.

“This new funding from the UK Government will help the industry to continue the great work so far reducing emissions, adopting new green technologies and create more jobs, all vital on the path to recovery from coronavirus.”