Grant Shapps urged to end support for burning forest wood and crops for energy

Main marketing campaign teams have joined forces to condemn the continued burning of wood from forests and energy crops in UK energy stations.

Campaigners from Greenpeace, WWF, the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Wildlife and Countryside Hyperlink and Mighty Earth are among the many NGOs who’ve penned an open letter to energy secretary Grant Shapps forward of the anticipated publication of the federal government’s new Biomass Technique.

The activists are calling on ministers to end all subsidies for burning wood from forests and energy crops in energy stations and to not award energy corporations any new support or contracts to achieve this.

Bioenergy has been promoted as a carbon-neutral and renewable energy supply on the idea that the emissions launched by burning wood and crops may be offset by the carbon dioxide taken up by these planted to change them.

The business claims that the wood is sustainably sourced from forestry waste – like twigs and offcuts slightly than complete timber – and that carbon seize know-how can assist to catch CO2 emissions when its burned.

However scientists and activists have been elevating critical doubts over the veracity of those sustainability claims and whether or not biomass ought to play a significant position in nationwide web zero plans.

“The idea that burning wood is carbon impartial is fake,” the campaigners wrote on Friday.

“It is rather totally different than the genuinely low-carbon energy offered by wind, photo voltaic, or geothermal.

“Bioenergy energy vegetation are among the greatest sources of carbon dioxide within the UK.

“It’s assumed that they’ll offset their emissions by regrowing the timber which might be minimize down. However this could take a long time – time we don’t have within the race to minimize emissions and deal with local weather change.”

Within the letter, the campaigners additionally claimed that burning wood pellets has been discovered to improve energy payments, carries larger dangers to UK energy and meals safety in contrast to wind and photo voltaic, and causes air pollution that may negatively have an effect on well being and nature.

They disputed authorities and business arguments that carbon seize know-how could make bioenergy “carbon destructive”, including that the UK’s web zero plans are based mostly on “flawed calculations”.

Elsewhere, they raised issues that subsidies can be granted to energy corporations in the event that they commit to use carbon seize know-how – however no matter whether or not they really achieve this.

“Billions of billpayers’ cash could also be used for business-as-usual burning of timber,” the letter warned.

The federal government is ready to unveil a brand new biomass technique on the end of June, outlining how utilizing sustainably-sourced wood and carbon seize know-how can assist the UK attain web zero.

Energy big Drax, which runs the wood-burning energy plant in Yorkshire, has been hoping the Authorities will lengthen wood burning licences past the present 2027 expiration.

However the latest Local weather Change Committee’s report into the federal government’s web zero progress discovered that biomass energy vegetation should not be given contracts to function from 2027 if the UK hopes to obtain its targets.

The vast majority of biomass burned within the UK is sourced and shipped from international locations just like the US, Canada and Estonia with producers typically counting on authorities subsidies to make revenue.

Many been rocked by scandals lately, dealing with allegations of slicing down complete timber slightly than simply forestry waste and polluting the air of susceptible communities the place the wood pellets are made.

The campaigners referred to experiences that Drax’s personal scientific advisers advised the corporate to cease calling biomass “carbon impartial” and referring to the wood it makes use of as “waste”.

Additionally they cited analysis which discovered that Drax is a significant PM10 polluter – small particles that may be inhaled and trigger well being points.

Gemma Hoskins, senior UK director at Mighty Earth, mentioned: “Chopping down timber to make wood pellets to burn for electrical energy is just not carbon impartial, it’s a carbon nightmare, releasing extra carbon into the environment than coal.”

Alex Mackaness, senior coverage adviser for bioenergy at RSPB, mentioned: “Transferring ahead, burning timber for electrical energy era, even with carbon seize and storage, shouldn’t be supported, and as an alternative the Technique should determine how we finest use the scarce biomass assets we’ve at our disposal in a manner that delivers each for individuals and nature.”

Matt Williams, campaigner for Reduce Carbon Not Forests, added: “It has turn out to be crystal clear how unhealthy burning timber is for the local weather, forests, and individuals’s energy payments.

“It’s time to consign burning timber in energy vegetation to the previous, and concentrate on defending forests.”

A Division for Energy Safety and Internet Zero spokesperson mentioned: “We’re dedicated to sustaining our strict biomass sustainability standards, to guarantee biomass use genuinely contributes to the UK’s decarbonisation efforts and is consistent with the UK’s local weather and environmental targets.

“Our ambition is to stay on the forefront of biomass sustainability, strengthening our already strict standards the place required.

“The Biomass Technique will current additional element on this space.”

PA has contacted Drax for remark.

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