Reclaim the Power campaigners demonstrated at Boomeco in Avonmouth today. At 1pm today (1st June 2015) three protesters entered wearing gas masks and stood next to one of the company’s giant wood piles, holding placards saying “Biomass isn’t green, stop subsidising it.”
Boomeco is one of several companies in the area chipping used wood for fuel. This controversial practice has been the subject of a legal case by residents who believe that the wood dust it generates has increased respiratory and other health problems in the area. It is also highly contested by sustainability groups. Local charity and green business the Bristol Wood Recycling Project explains that 25 percent of ‘waste’ streams supplying such businesses are viable for reuse and should not be regarded as fuel.
Claire Taylor explained:
“Big biofuel projects simply aren’t sustainable. Yet the Tory government continues to subsidise such businesses. We’re suffering cuts to public services and genuinely renewable energy systems, while the real scroungers in the business sector are given a hand out for making things worse. It’s got to stop.”
Joe Williams added:
“We’ve come from the Reclaim the Power camp today because the fighting spirit of Avonmouth is something people across the country should know about. A community that takes to the streets when local pollution becomes unbearable and which forced a planning enquiry into yet another incineration project in the area.
“The scrapping of plans for the giant Helius biomass plant at Avonmouth shows that finance is key to such projects, even when they have been granted planning permission. The proposed Balfour Beatty wood burning plant in the area isn’t viable without subsidy. It’s time to pull the plug.”
Boomeco are set to double the scale of operations in the area to supply the contested Balfour Beatty/Nexterra plant should construction go ahead.
Government subsidies for biofuel projects include the importing of clear felled ancient forests from the southern states of the USA to supply the UK’s biggest power generating plant, Drax, which is in the process of converting half of its operation to biomass. Waste wood projects take viable reusable timber out of the system, creating a demand for further deforestation.
The group’s good natured intervention went off without incident.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, ‘smokestack’ carbon dioxide emissions from biomass are estimated to be on average 50% higher than those of coal.
Scientists, including those from the EU’s European Environment Agency (EEA), have
also shown that bioenergy can substantially increase the levels of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere, just like burning coal, oil and gas if harvesting takes place on an
The UK government should end all subsidies for bioenergy. Public money could be redirected towards reducing energy consumption, appropriate solar and wind energy projects, and community-based initiatives for sustainable farming and forestry
There have been a number of catastrophic fires at biomass power stations when wood stores have spontaneously combusted, such as the 2012 fire at Tilbury power station which took three days to bring under control.