UK Government faces renewed green biomass furore

When the BBC aired its expose of misleading green subsidies paid to Drax, which runs Britain’s largest power station on wood pellets, there was national outrage. Now industry experts, and public polling, suggests policymakers still need to respond. 

Earlier this month, the Climate Change Committee published a new report which recommended cutting financial support for the biomass industry by 2027. Concerns include the effect on air pollution, and the destruction of forests at a time when biodiversity and restoration of woodland is a priority.

Biomass green

However, it does leave room for continued, providing effective rollout of bioenergy carbon capture and storay (BECCS) takes place.  Within this scenario, nuclear and biomass could account for around 20% of the UK’s total energy generation post-green transition. 

‘The Government should read the room: its official climate advisers have called time on the billions of pounds in handouts to companies that burn trees in power stations. Our research recently found that 62% of the public oppose it,’ said Matt Williams, Senior Advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and Cut Carbon Not Forests campaigner.

‘Scientists and environmental experts have been warning against it for years. Burning imported trees for electricity undermines energy security, increases energy bills, and doesn’t benefit the climate. It’s time to put families and forests first and stop spending billions of public money on this false climate solution,’ he continued.

While this polling reveals significant public opposition to biomass, more research numbers from Cut Carbon Not Forests suggests even more skepticism. Overall, 73% of people involved in the organisation’s recent survey are concerned about the impact burning trees, and wood materials, has on air pollution and human health. Meanwhile, just 3% believe using imported wood from overseas as biomass fuel can improve UK energy security. And, perhaps most significantly, 64% agree that labelling biomss as green is misleading. 

Find out more about Drax’s environmental impact in this report by our sister publication, Air Quality News.


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