Hundreds of groups call on Brazilian government to reject GE trees application by UK-registered company

Biofuelwatch & Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees press release – for immediate use Thursday 4th September 2014

Hundreds of groups call on Brazilian government to reject GE trees application by UK-registered company

Social and ecological justice organizations from around the world have signed two letters [1, 2] addressed to the Brazilian government calling on it to reject an application by UK-registered FuturaGene to plant the world’s first commercial-scale genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus plantations. [3] FuturaGene is owned by Brazilian pulp and paper company Suzano, which was exposed last year for causing land conflicts over eucalyptus plantations linked to wood pellet exports to UK biomass power stations. [4]

Continue reading Hundreds of groups call on Brazilian government to reject GE trees application by UK-registered company

Groups unite to call on Brazil to deny application to legalize genetically engineered eucalyptus trees

Groups unite to call on Brazil to deny application to legalize genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, joint press release by STOP GE Trees, which includes Biofuelwatch, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, EcoNexus, Friends of the Earth Melbourne, Global Justice Ecology Project, Indigenous Environmental Network and World Rainforest Movement

Groups globally mobilize to stop commercial release of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Brazil and US

Groups globally mobilize to stop commercial release of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees in Brazil and US, Press release by the Stop GE Trees Campaign, supported by Biofuelwatch (US-UK), Canadian Biotechnology Action Network,, EcoNexus, Indigenous Environmental Network, World Rainforest Movement, Friends of the Earth Melbourne and Global Justice Ecology Project


Sickly Sweet: Human Rights Conditions for Sugarcane Workers in Western Nicaragua

Sickly Sweet: Human Rights Conditions for Sugarcane Workers in Western Nicaragua, Report by La Isla Foundation, which documents the contrast between legal protections of Nicaraguan sugarcane workers and the reality of their working and living conditions.

Is toxic algae good for you?

Is toxic algae good for you?, Article by Rachel Smolker about synthetic biology and algal biofuels, published by Huffington Post

Object to plans for large biomass power plant in Sutton Bridge

Energy Park Sutton Bridge (EPSB) want to build a large biomass power station – which they describe as a ‘gasifier’ – in Sutton Bridge.  Although South Holland’s planning committee voted for the application in May 2014, their decision was quashed in the High Court and EPSB have submitted new planning documents.  No date for a decision has been set and objections can still be made.  Please send your objection to the Council below and please personalise the text if possible.  

EPSB’s proposed plant would

+ burn at least 420,000 tonnes of virgin and waste wood every year.  UK companies already burn so much wood in power stations that millions of tonnes of it are being imported from as far away as North America.  In this context, burning almost half a million tonnes more wood in one inefficient power station is neither sustainable nor climate friendly;

+ likely be less than 20% efficient, with no realistic prospect of increasing efficiency by supplying heat.  This means that of every five trees cut down to make woodchips for this plants, four would be entirely wasted as uncaptured heat;

+ cause significant air pollution, including from a wide range of toxins contained in chemically treated wood.  Several of those pollutants are linked to heart and lung disease, to increased asthma attacks, strokes, cancers and birth defects;

+ cause significant noise and additional traffic, with HGVs expected to enter and leave the site every few minutes from 7am to 11pm;

+ carry a worrying risk of fires and explosions;

+ be built in a flood plain, on a site that is at  high risk of flooding.

In addition to sending the letter below, please use the same points to write to your Councillor and tell him or her why you oppose these plans.  You can find the contact details for your local Councillor here.  To find what else you can do to stop this power station and how to support the local campaign against it, please go to .
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Edinburgh Green Bank Annual Review Protest Photos

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Credit: Alice Myers

Protesters target Green Bank Annual Review over dirty investments

Biofuelwatch media release – for immediate use Wednesday 25th June

Protesters target Green Bank Annual Review over dirty investments

Photographs available here:

Environmental groups [1] staged a protest at the first of two Green Investment Bank (GIB) Annual Review events in London this morning. Campaigners criticised the GIB for investing almost £200 million into “dirty” energy projects this year, including biomass power stations and waste incinerators. Local residents and members of the Avonmouth Coalition Against Big Biofuels also presented GIB Chairman Lord Smith with an open letter [2] highlighting fears over GIB finance for a deeply unpopular biomass power station, which will require some 1 million tonnes of imported wood each year.

Continue reading Protesters target Green Bank Annual Review over dirty investments

London GIB Annual review Photos

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Second Open letter to Green Bank from Avonmouth residents calls to an end to big biomass investments

At the Green Investment Bank’s London Annual Review today a Biofuelwatch campaigner handed the bank an open letter signed by Avonmouth residents and organisations involved in the campaign to stop Helius Energy’s big biomass power station in Avonmouth. Residents have already been suffering the impacts of wood dust pollution and don’t want to see another 1 million tonnes of wood being imported each year because of the power station.


Dear Lord Smith, Chairperson Green Investment Bank,

Open letter: Stop funding big biomass

We are deeply concerned that the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is supporting the development of large-scale biomass power projects in the UK.

In particular, we are concerned that the GIB has granted a loan to Drax Group PLC to convert their power station predominantly to biomass and continues to stand by this decision despite clear evidence of negative environmental and social impacts. The loan to Drax Group PLC clearly conflicts with the GIB’s purpose of supporting low-carbon and sustainable investments and undermines its credibility as an environmentally responsible investor.

In addition, residents of Bristol, Avonmouth and Southampton are dismayed that the GIB is considering helping to finance Helius Energy to develop big biomass projects in our area. In Avonmouth, residents are already suffering from wood dust pollution (a Grade 1 carcinogen), particularly from the chipping of recycled wood. The amount of wood dust pollution will increase if Helius’ plans go ahead.

The power station will be dependent on imported wood, mainly from North America and in particular the southern US, where there is strong evidence that highly-biodiverse wetland forests are being felled for the wood pellet industry. The UK’s ballooning wood demand is the main driver of North American wood pellet exports.

We therefore call on the GIB to:

  • Revoke its loan to Drax because of the serious adverse effects on carbon emissions and the environment.
  • Rule out the provision of finance to large-scale biomass projects in England, including Helius Energy’s big biomass plans in Avonmouth and Southampton.
  • Stop financing waste incinerators which are hugely polluting and burn much re-usable waste.


Organisations: The Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels, Action for Sustainable Energy for Bristol, Friends of the Earth Bristol, Frack Free Somerset, Bristol Rising Tide, Bristol Left Unity, South West Against Nuclear, Frack Free Bristol, Avonmouth Dust Forum, Bristol Energy Coop and Biofuelwatch.

Avonmouth Residents: Debbie Owen-Reynolds, Michelle Kendall, Hayes CL Hayes, Christine Chard, Liz Moore, Anne Marie Lloyd, Sarah Downing, Kim Lewis O’Connor, Karen Potter, Ian Robinson, Georgina Dimambro, Suzanne Nicholas, Steven Norman, Tara, Nicholas, Lucy and Marcus Donlin, Gary, Marion, and Jade Hayward, Jessica Collier, Kevin Talbot, Sandra Ware, Sue Stevens, Vicki Collins, Sara Richardson, Sarah Morgan, Steve Kenyon, Colin Brickell, Phillip Chard, Karissa Skidmore, Jane Kautz, Terri Leeanne Bowers, Mick Bowers, Denise Lynne, Vicki Collins, Allison Aitchison, Leanne Willman and Steve Kenyon.


+ Drax’s plans to convert 50% of their power station’s capacity to biomass will require pellets from almost 16 million tonnes of wood to be burned every year – the equivalent of 1.6 times the UK’s annual wood production. Virtually of of the wood burned by Drax comes from imported whole trees [1] – which many scientific studies show will result in greater carbon emissions than generating equivalent amounts of energy from burning coal for at least one or two generations. [2] Currently consented biomass electricity projects could burn 68.9m tonnes of mainly imported biomass – 7 time total UK wood production and 20 times current demand.[3]

+ Some of the wood burned by Drax has been shown to come from clearcut ancient swamp forests in the southern US. [4]

+ UK Secretary of State Vince Cable has confirmed that without this GIB loan, Drax would have had to close. [5] This means that the GIB has enabled Drax to burn millions of tonnes of coal every year until 2027.

+ Despite all of this evidence, the Green Investment Bank claimed in its 2013 Annual Report that over 90% of the anticipated greenhouse gas savings from GIB loans in 2012/13 will come from the one to Drax.[6]


[1] For technical reasons, Drax can only burn wood from slow growing trees with a low bark content.  This rules out most sawmill residues, which are high in bark:

[2] For a list of relevant peer-reviewed studies, see


[4] and