Green Bank targeted at anniversary event over finance for dirty energy projects

Biofuelwatch press release – for immediate use

Green Bank targeted at anniversary event over finance for dirty energy projects

Photos available here:

Campaigners held a rowdy demonstration at the Green Investment Bank’s 2nd anniversary event last night, where Business Secretary Vince Cable delivered a keynote speech. The 25 protesters were angry at recent loans to big biomass and waste incineration projects, and called on it to ditch similar investments in the future. Over 1,500 people have also written to Green Bank chair Lord Smith this week calling on him to promise not to finance the construction of what will be by far the UK’s biggest dedicated biomass power station. [1]

“First the GIB provided the money to keep the UK’s largest power station open, then it funded a host of dirty biomass and waste incineration projects” said Duncan Law, Biofuelwatch [2] Campaigner. “Now we’re worried that the bank will turn to MGT Power’s huge biomass plant, which has been struggling to find finance for 5 years now. The GIB could be make or break for this project, and 1,500 people have just told the GIB to break it. Big biomass causes forest destruction, air pollution and vast carbon emissions, and the Green Bank should steer well clear of projects like MGT’s.”

MGT Power’s 300MW plant will be more than four times larger than the biggest biomass plant in the UK currently. It will require some 2.7 million tonnes of mostly imported woodchip a year, equivalent of half of the UK’s annual wood production. [3] MGT have been implicated in landgrabbing and causing conflicts with traditional communities in North-East Brazil after signing a deal with a Brazilian eucalyptus plantation company. [4] They have since distanced themselves from sourcing from Brazil and instead say they will source from North America. The project was recently given a boost and guaranteed up to £200 million a year in subsidies by DECC.

The protest was the fourth time that the Green Bank has been targeted by environmental campaigners in the past two years. [5] The bank caused controversy in late 2012 when it issued its first big loan to help Drax coal-fired power station partially convert to biomass. At the time, Business Secretary Vince Cable confirmed that the loan had helped to save the UK’s dirtiest power station from closure. [6] Over the past year substantial evidence has been gathered by US-based conservation organisations showing that Drax is sourcing wood pellets from clear-felled, highly-biodiverse, swamp forests in the southern US. [7] A recent report issued by DECC also highlights how burning this kind of wood actually releases more carbon emissions than the coal it replaces. [8]

Biofuelwatch campaigner Oliver Munnion added: “We’re keeping up the pressure on the Green Investment Bank because we believe that there’s more finance for dirty energy in the pipeline. MGT Power’s huge biomass plant on Teesside could well be the next big investment. Finance for this plant would be devastating for forests and climate targets, and we want a commitment from the bank that it won’t go near MGT. The bank needs a serious reassessment of its investment criteria, and to ditch finance for energy from waste and biomass.”

Campaigners are also renewing calls for the bank to end talks with biomass power company Helius Energy, which is currently looking for investors into another big biomass power station in Avonmouth. Communities are already suffering the impacts of wood dust from multiple wood processing facilities at the port, and oppose the plant and the additional strain this will place on the local residents. [9]


Media contacts:

Duncan Law
Biofuelwatch Campaigner

Oliver Munnion
Biofuelwatch Co-Director

Notes to Editors:

[1] Currently, the UK’s largest dedicated biomass power station is RWE’s Markinch plant at 65MW in fife, Scotland

[2] Biofuelwatch is a not-for-profit grassroots organisation set up to raise awareness of the negative impacts of industrial biofuels and bioenergy

[3] More information about the scheme can be found here and here

[4] Eucalyptus Plantations for Energy: A Case Study of Suzano’s plantations for wood pellet exports in the Baixo Parnaíba region, Maranhão, Brazil, is the first documented case of a land-grab in Brazil for biomass destined for power stations in the UK. The authors of the Brazilian case study are Ivonete Gonçalves de Souza (CEPEDES) and Winfridus Overbeek (World Rainforest Movement).

[5] Biofuelwatch and UK Without Incineration Network staged protests at the two GIB annual review events in June this year which included a theatrical stunt and open letters to the bank

[6] According to Secretary of State Vince Cable, without converting to biomass and the loan from the Green Investment Bank that is helping to finance it, Drax “would have closed down because it has to meet European rules on coal use and it wouldn’t have been able to survive” (,Authorised=false.html?

[7] US-based Dogwood Alliance have extensively documented the use of whole trees and destruction of ancient wetland forests in the southern US by Drax and E.On pellet supplier Envia. For more information see Dogwood Alliance campaign “Our forests aren’t fuel” and Biofuelwatch’s new report “Biomass: the Chain of Destruction”

[8] Report can be found here and Bifuelwatch’s reaction to it here