[NOTE: This alert is now closed and for information only. Forth Energy has announced that they will not proceed with their plans in Grangemouth and Rosyth and they have withdrawn he application in Dundee. They are looking for a potential buyer for their planning consets in Grangemouth and Rosyth but clearly GIB finance for Forth Energy is no longer on the cards.]
On 3rd June, the Scottish Government approved Forth Energy’s consent application for a biomass power station at Grangemouth Port that will burn 1.5 million tonnes of wood. Most of the wood will be imported – likely from North and/or South America. This is the first of three similar planning applications by Forth Energy to be determined – ones for Rosyth and Dundee are still pending (with a Public Local Inquiry expected over the Dundee plans).
Nearly 1,000 Grangemouth residents objected to the plans (in a town of just 18,000 people), as did the local authority. At a Public Local Inquiry last May, a coalition of objecting groups, led by Grangemouth Community Council, presented detailed evidence on the damage that the power station would cause to forests and climate, to local people’s health and to aquatic life. Yet the Reporter recommended approval – arguing that the sustainability, efficiency and the climate impacts of the plant were not relevant planning matters and brushing aside concerns over public health and ecosystem impacts.
Now, the Green Investment Bank (GIB) is considering whether to help finance the power station. This was confirmed in a response to a Biofuelwatch Freedom of Information request from the Scottish Government states: “The Scottish Government is aware that UK Green Investment Bank (UKGIB) are investing and looking to invest in Bioenergy/biomass/biofuel projects including potentially to Forth Energy for Grangemouth”. For Forth Energy, a GIB loan may well be key to attracting the private sector loans – which means, without GIB support, the power station might not be built.
GIB finance for Forth Energy’s Grangemouth plant would mean:
+ A clear clash of interest: Lord Smith of Kelvin is Chair of the GIB as well as Chairman of SSE who own 50% of the shares in Forth Energy.
+ More forest destruction: Last month, the BBC reported that pellets made from trees that were clearcut in ancient swamp forests in the southern US were being exported to Drax. The pellet company in question has one of the certificates recognized by Forth Energy and the Scottish Government, so destroying ancient swamp forests would meet their ‘sustainability’ rules;
+ More air pollution threatening Grangemouth people’s health: Legal air quality standards have been breached regularly for many years in the town. Grangemouth Town Centre has well-above-average rates of heart and respiratory disease and strokes, all of which are known to be exacerbated by air pollution;
+ More carbon emissions: Forth Energy does not deny that they intend to burn wood from whole trees and study after study shows that this results in greater overall carbon emissions than coal (per unit of energy) for at least one or two generations.
The GIB has already helped to keep Drax from being shut down by co-financing their partial conversion with biomass, as confirmed by Secretary of State Vince Cable. They should be funding genuine low-carbon, sustainable investments – not more high-carbon, unsustainable and polluting biomass.
Please write to the GIB below. Your letter will be automatically copied to the UK and Scottish Governments. If you can personalize your message, it may have greater impact. Many thanks!
To find out more about the Green Bank and our efforts to stop more funding for biomass, see Banking on Big Biomass and for more information about the Scottish Government’s decision to approve Forth Energy’s Grangemouth application, see our briefing here.