4th October 2017
Protesters have gathered outside an international bioenergy conference at the Sheraton Hotel to object to forest destruction in the USA for wood to burn in UK power stations.
The protesters are targeting Enviva, the world’s largest wood pellet company. Investigations in the USA have repeatedly shown the company clear-felling rare wetland forests to provide wood for pellets.
Most of Enviva’s wood pellets are shipped across the Atlantic and burnt in Drax power station in Yorkshire. Burning wood for electricity, (called ‘biomass electricity’) is growing rapidly in the UK due to renewable energy subsidies: over £800 million was given to power stations like Drax in 2015 to burn 15 million tonnes of wood.
However, environmental campaigners challenge biomass electricity’s green credentials. Claire Robertson, from the organisation Biofuelwatch, commented: “The push for biomass electricity is causing wood to be harvested at an unsustainable scale. Rather than burning wastes, as the biomass industry claim, companies like Enviva are manufacturing wood pellets from whole trees, which produce carbon emissions higher than coal.”
“Renewable energy subsidies should go to technologies like wind and solar which provide genuine carbon savings and do not lead to deforestation.”
The protest comes in the wake of news last month that a controversial biomass power plant in Grangemouth has received renewable energy subsidies and will be built. The 85MW power plant is expected to burn 850,000 tonnes of imported wood every year. The developers, Forth Energy, obtained planning permission in 2014 amidst widespread opposition, and have now sold the project to obscure startup Silva Renewable Energy.
Walter Inglis of Grangemouth Community Council commented: “Grangemouth Community Council are dismayed to hear that yet again our community is being confronted with the prospect of yet more polluting industry. There are currently three proposals entrained within the planning system for power generating facilities to be sited within Grangemouth. At what point will the environmental regulators consider the cumulative impact of these proposals and their effect on the health and wellbeing of the community?
Notes for editors:
1. The “bioenergy insight” and “biofuels international” conferences are being held at the Sheraton Hotel on the 4th and 5th October
2. For more information about Enviva and the deforestation of Southern US forests for European bioenergy, please see https://www.nrdc.org/resources
3. New Scientist’s article on biomass is a good introduction on why it is a ‘renewable energy scam’ https://www.newscientist.com/a
4. “Grangemouth Renewable Energy Plant” was awarded ‘Contracts for Difference’ (BEIS’s new renewable energy subsidy which has replaced onshore wind and solar subsidies) on 11th September https://www.mrw.co.uk/latest/a
1. Claire Robertson, UK Bioenergy campaigner, Biofuelwatch: 07856 715542
2. Frances Howe, UK Bioenergy campaigner, Biofuelwatch: 07928 113194
All email enquiries to biofuelwatch[at]gmail.com
Pictures available on request.