Friends of the Earth Scotland and Biofuelwatch joint News Release

Environmental campaigners today (23 November 2012) called on the Scottish Government to pay attention to warnings against subsidies for inefficient and unsustainable large-scale biomass.

The warnings come in a report on renewable energy published by a Scottish Parliament Committee today , which urges the Government not to subsidise proposed biomass power stations without “substantive improvements to efficiency”.

Emilia Hanna, Biofuelwatch, said: “The Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee report today sends a strong message to the Scottish Government that their current plans for subsidising large, inefficient biomass power stations pose a risk to climate and human rights and must be revised. Otherwise, we will see more biodiverse forests worldwide being destroyed and likely more communities being evicted to make way for tree plantations in countries such as Brazil, in order to feed Scottish power stations.”

Andrew Llanwarne, Board member of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Within the next few months, Forth Energy’s biomass applications in Rosyth, Grangemouth and Dundee will be decided by the Scottish Government. If they are given the green light then we will see millions of tonnes of wood from the Americas being burnt, at a devastating cost to forests and climate and possibly human rights.

“Pouring hundreds of millions of pounds taken from all our electricity bills into this would defeat the purpose of the Scottish renewable energy target, and be contrary to the Government’s own policy for biomass. We support the Committee’s view that biomass has its place, and can be sustainable, if it is used efficiently in small local schemes to produce heat. This is the Government’s stated policy and they should stick to it.”

Under Government proposals, hundreds of millions of pounds of subsidies could be paid to inefficient biomass power stations,contrary to its own stated policy. The Committee’s report also warns that the Government’s proposed sustainability standards for biomass ignore human rights as well as key climate impacts. They would burn wood from plantations overseas, from which communities have been evicted, effectively exporting the Clearances to other countries. And far from reducing our carbon emissions, burning trees would release more carbon than coal. Yet they would be eligible for subsidies.

ENDS

Contacts: Andrew Llanwarne, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Tel 01382 732457, or mobile 0791 294 5325 Emilia Hanna, Biofuelwatch: 07595-768349

Notes to editors:

1. The “Report on the achievability of the Scottish Government’s renewable energy targets” was published by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee earlier today and is available at www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_EconomyEnergyandTourismCommittee/Reports/e…

2. Paragraph 273 of the report states: “The Committee shares the concerns of the Scottish Government and the wood panel industry with regard to the potential distortion of the wood market caused by increasing biomass generation. We are further concerned that sustainability criteria and certification schemes for feedstock fail to take account of issues of human rights, indirect land use change and emissions debt. Accordingly, the Committee supports the Scottish Government’s proposals not to incentivise new, large scale plants dedicated solely to the generation electricity. The Committee would wish to see substantive improvements in the efficiency of proposed biomass plants before they could attract subsidy.”

3. For background information about the Scottish Government proposal, please see Parliamentary Briefing: How Scottish Government proposals will support destructive, low-efficiency, large-scale biomass by Friends of the Earth Scotland, Biofuelwatch, Grangemouth Community Council and No Leith Biomass. www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2012/scottish-parliament-briefing-rocs