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Take action: Stop support for burning trees for power

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The Government is undermining Britain’s commitment to renewable energy. It continues to subsidise power stations that burn trees. Instead it should be investing in clean, green, renewable energy like solar, wind and wave power.

Yet the Government’s own analysis shows that burning whole trees in power stations is even worse for the climate than burning coal.  You can tell the Government what you think about this below.

Impact of subsidies. If the large subsidies continue, UK power plants will soon be burning through 6 times as much wood as all our forests currently produce each year.

That means these power stations will rely mainly on imports from overseas. The extra demands for wood will put pressure on the world’s forests – causing further deforestation.

Opportunity. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) wants to know how much public money should be spent in this way.

Please write to the Energy Minister Ed Davey and use this chance to have your say. Thank you.

Click here to send message.

This action is based on the findings of a new report published by RSPB, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace which concluded that Burning whole trees in power stations can be dirtier than coal.


The report uses the Government’s own data to show that burning whole trees to generate electricity is worse for the climate than coal: generating power from typical conifer trees results in 49 per cent more emissions than burning coal.  The report follows a series of announcements from major coal power stations, including Drax and Eggborough, of intentions to switch over from burning coal to burning wood.

The three organisations are calling on Government to cancel plans to subsidise burning whole trees in coal power stations and new ‘biomass only’ power plants. Instead, they want Government to focus on building a small-scale bioenergy sector based on sustainable UK feedstocks, including wood waste and arisings from forestry, as well as continued investment in clean, green renewable energy such as solar, wind and wave power.



Text of suggested email to Ed Davey MP.

I am writing to ask you to stop spending public money on supporting power stations that burn trees. The subsidies were intended to reduce greenhouse emissions, and yet they are having the opposite effect.

Research commissioned by your own department has found that burning whole trees results in even more greenhouse emissions than burning coal. If the practice continues, UK power stations will soon be burning 6 times as much wood as all our forests currently produce each year. The shortfall will create the need to import more trees from overseas. This increased demand for wood will put even more pressure on the world’s forests and lead to further deforestation.

Public subsidies under the Renewables Obligation should only be spent on technologies that lead to real climate benefits. These include clean energy such as solar, wind, and wave power. Please make sure that, in the current review of the sustainability and carbon standards of the Renewables Obligation, support for the burning of wood from tree trunks is scrapped and refocused on the use of biomass from wastes and residues only.

Click here to send message.

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