Newly Launched Renewable Energy Consultation met by Activist Fury
Members of Action Against Agrofuels, dressed in Orangutan suits, climbed 10m up trees above The Mall 200m from Buckingham Palace with a vast banner reading “Biomassacre: Don’t subsidise it” as the government consultation on renewable energy subsidies commences.
Activists are furious that the most unsustainable and environmentally damaging form of energy is being branded ‘green’ and wins one of the highest levels of subsidies for power generation. This, activists state diverts venture capital away from true renewables such as wind and solar.
This follows a gathering of about 80 protesters outside DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) called by Biofuelwatch and the Campaign against Climate Change yesterday calling for a complete halt to subsidising bioenergy.
Biomass power station applications are appearing all over the UK as venture capitalists seek to profit from burning biofuels and wood chips. Activists say that subsidies are not just destroying ecosystems but are driving land grabs at an unprecedented rate. Land previously available for food production is now being taken for energy crops with serious implications for global food poverty. This is because consent on just the current planning applications would require woodchip imports of nearly six times the total UK production, all of which is currently allocated.
Andrew Butler commented that “We’re seeing the start of unjustified payments to burn wood and vegetable oil to produce electricity on an industrial scale, depriving millions of people of the land they need to grow food. We’re also seeing an onslaught on the world’s last great forests exacerbating biodiversity loss and climate change. To cap it all, we’re being forced to pay for this with mandatory surcharges on our energy bills.”
Ironically even the government’s own think tank the RFA, and more recently the European Environment Agency2 as well as the UN Environment Programme3 have all cautioned that liquid biofuels and biomass (wood chip and wood pellets) could speed up deforestation, land grabs and climate change.
Burning biomass also has severe local impacts. Increased air pollution from particulate toxins and arsenic released when liquid biofuels and in particular wood chips are burnt are set to trigger health problems on an unprecedented scale.
Ali Connolly stated “At home too the impacts are devastating. Ex-minister Jim Fitzpatrick acknowledged research stating that the health cost to the British public from toxic emissions at 1.5 million life years annually. The coalition government is condemning all those living within the vicinity of these power stations to an early grave.”
The consultation document confirms subsidy proposals of 1.5 ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates) for bioenergy beyond 2013. This is an unprecedented bonanza amounting to £3billion of free money just for the bioenergy power stations already proposed. A flood of new applications will undoubtedly follow.
Biomassacre – Don’t subsidise it