Grangemouth biomass spark fears for forests’ future

The Corvus J sailed from The Port of Grangemouth
The Corvus J sailed from The Port of Grangemouth

Environmental groups fear for the future of the world’s forests if the Scottish Government approves a proposal to subsidise biomass plants.

A consultation on the future funding of biomass energy - burning wood to create power - took place in Holyrood last week as groups, including Friends of the Earth Scotland and Biofuelwatch, warned of a major threat to communities.

Andrew Llanwarne, of Friends of the Earth, said: “The Scottish Government must urgently revise its plans and make sure renewable energy subsidies go towards genuine renewable energy, such as sustainable wind and tidal power. Not towards cutting down and burning other countries’ forests.”

Grangemouth Community Council was following the consultation closely, since it has been objecting to Forth Energy’s plans to bring a multi-million pound combined heat and power (CHP) biomass plant to the town.

A public inquiry, the first in the country to deal with a specific biomass scheme, was held in May.

While the community council raised concerns about air quality and sustainability, Forth Energy stated the plant would create jobs and produce energy and heat in a far more environmentally-friendly manner than a coal-fired power station.

The inquiry report is still being studied by Scottish ministers.

The Scottish Government is proposing that only small-scale, highly-efficient combined heat and power operations will be supported.

Environmental groups say this will still allow sites like the Forth Energy plant to benefit from huge subsidies.

Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald is a member of the SNP, but has fought against large-scale biomass power stations alongside Friends of the Earth.

He said: “I am on record as being against large scale biomass subsidies for some years. As a former member of Falkirk Council’s planning committee I moved the original motion against the proposal for Forth Energy’s 100MW biomass plant in Grangemouth, going against council planning officers recommendations.

“The Scottish Government is fully aware of these concerns – I have lobbied the Energy Minister on this issue since being elected to the Scottish Parliament. It is precisely because of these concerns that the Scottish Government has extended the consultation on biomass, and I would encourage other concerned groups and individuals to make their views known to the Scottish Government prior to the consultation closing.”

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