UK Government response to the campaign against Green Investment Bank funding for big biomass

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has asked us to publish their response to our campaign against Green Investment Bank funding for big biomass and biofuels.

Please click here to download a copy of their response.

We believe that the response does not in any way address the concerns expressed by us and more than 1,100 people who have taken written to the Green Investment Bank and asked them to stop funding big biomass.

BIS claims that “our approach ensures the benefits of bio-energy are secured in a way that meets rigorous sustainability requirements. Drax will use sustainable sources of biomass that meet Government’s sustainability criteria as overseen by Ofgem.

Biomass sustainability standards have not yet been introduced in the UK, though the Government states they intend to do so from October.  There will be no monitoring or verification of where the wood actually comes from – instead, companies will simply have to provide Ofgem with a form, signed by their own paid consultant that ‘confirms’ standards are being met.  Yet as the horsemeat and other recent food standards have shown, standards are meaningless without independent regulatory oversight.  This is just one of many flaws in the Government’s argument.  during May, a BBC investigation found that some of the pellets bought by Drax have come from trees from clearcut ancient swamp forests in the southern US.  Clearcutting swamp forests with trees older than a century for electricity is the opposite of what most people would consider sustainable.  Yet the pellets in question were certified under one of the voluntary certification schemes on which Drax and the UK Golvernment relies.  So they would have met future sustainability standards.  In any case, standards could never make an unsustainable demand sustainable.  Burning the equivalent of almost the entire UK wood annual wood production in one power station (Drax) can never be sustainable.

BIS further states: “Government believes that the GIB has a key part to play in delivering the UK’s environmental objectives, helping to mobilise the additional private investment in green infrastructure necessary to achieve the transition to a more green economy. Government hopes Biofuelwatch and their campaign supporters will give the GIB their support in fulfilling this important role.
Big biomass and biofuels are high carbon and unsustainable – funding Drax and, potentially, Forth Energy is not a green investment.