World Rainforest Movement

Converting coal plans to burn biomass only replaces one disaster with another

The big coal burning utilities in the UK and elsewhere are trying to get around new EU sulphur dioxide regulations that would otherwise require them to shut down. DRAX, the UK’s biggest coal power station, seeks to convert half of their facility to burn wood pellets in place of coal, thus receiving subsidies for what is classified and supported lavishly as “renewable energy”.

DRAX plans would require burning pellets made from nearly 16 million green tones of wood every year, and other UK facilities (Tilbury B, Ironbridge, Drax, Eggborough, AlcanLynemouth)are following this course which in total would burn pellets manufactured from nearly 50 million green tonnes of wood annually. Almost all of this wood is to be imported given that UK’s total domestic wood harvest, for all purposes, is only about 10 million green tonnes per year. These utilities are seeking supplies of wood from around the globe, putting the future of forests at ever greater risk.

Organised by Biofuelwatch with the support of 16 other groups, a demonstration and rally outside the annual general meeting of DraxPlc, at the Grocers’ Hall in London, on last April 24,highlighted the impacts that Drax power station’s plans to convert half of its generating capacity to biomass will have in terms of increased deforestation, land-grabbing and carbon emissions (http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2013/drax-agm-targeted-over-biomass-conversion-plans/).

Also, 48 non-UK organisations and networks worldwide have signed the Open Letter Converting coal plants to burn biomass only replaces one disaster with another (http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/DRAX-AGM-signon.pdf) demanding that “DRAX and other UK utilities should halt their conversion plans and UK government must reverse course to avert catastrophic impacts on forests, climate and people.”

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