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



Open Letter to Green Bank calls for end to biomass investments

briefcase18 organisations and individuals including three MSPs, Biofuelwatch, Friends of the Earth Scotland and residents of impacted areas, have published an open letter (see below) to the Green Investment Bank ahead of its Annual Review in Edinburgh this week. The letter calls on the GIB to revoke its loan to Drax Plc and to make commitments not to finance two consented big biomass power stations at Grangemouth and Rosyth, in Scotland.

Continue reading Open Letter to Green Bank calls for end to biomass investments

Report finds EU Biomass policies are fuelling land-grabbing in the global South

Report finds EU Biomass policies are fuelling land-grabbing in the global South

9th June 2014 – A new report published today [1] by campaign group Biofuelwatch [2] shows that the growing demand for wood created by UK and EU biomass policies is fuelling land-grabs in Africa and South America. Despite finding that nearly all of the wood imported by the UK and other EU countries for bioenergy comes from North America and elsewhere in Europe, including Russia, the report shows that companies are taking advantage of the expectations raised by bioenergy policies in order to acquire large tracts of land in the global South. Continue reading Report finds EU Biomass policies are fuelling land-grabbing in the global South

As a strategic shareholder, is this in line with Wilmar’s No Deforestation Policy?

As a strategic shareholder, is this in line with Wilmar’s No Deforestation Policy? – Report by Greenomics about ongoing the destruction of High Carbon Stock forests for palm oil in Sulawesy by two companies in which Wilmar holds a 20% share

Recording community opposition to big biomass projects

A new website has been created to allow concerned residents to record experiences of living next door to the UK’s biggest biomass power station.

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In Markinch and Glenrothes in Scotland, the biggest biomass power station in the UK has recently reached completion. It is unknown what the impacts of this development will be on nearby communities over the long-term, with some members of the community already experiencing difficulties such as noise pollution.

While it is too late to prevent the plant from operating, it is not too late to make sure that the operator, RWE, is held accountable to the local community. Markinch Community Concerns was set up with support from Biofuelwatch for just this purpose. The aim being to make sure that RWE keep their promises and that SEPA continues to monitor the situation in the best interests of the people directly affected. Gathering a collective body of evidence will also allow members of the community to have a bigger impact on informing decision making in the future, rather than registering individual complaints.

The website encourages people experiencing impacts from the power station to share their stories and to register their complaint with SEPA. The site is supported by a facebook group.

You can visit the site here