Please write respectfully and include you name and address. If possible use your own words.
1 Horse Guards Road
No public loan guarantees for Helius Energy
Dear Mr Spence,
I am greatly concerned about the public loan guarantee given to Helius Energy for it’s new biomass power station in Avonmouth, Bristol.
Helius states that the plant “will be fuelled using a combination of imported wood from a number of countries, including the United States, and recycled wood fibre from the local environs”. The plant will burn 850,000 tonnes of fuel a year, far more than can be provided from scrap or be grown locally.
Most of the UK’s wood imports for power stations come from the southern US and British Columbia, in both regions, highly bio-diverse and carbon-rich forests are being rapidly clearcut. Outside of North America rising demands for biomass are being met by fast-growing trees in plantation such as eucalyptus. Already Brazil has around 6.7 millions hectares of ‘green desert’ timber plantation, with devastating impacts on forests, communities, food and water sovereignty.
Helius Energy claims they will only use fuel from sustainable sources but this isn’t possible. Government sustainability standards, in effect from April 2014, will be effectively meaningless. The standards rely heavily on different voluntary forestry certification schemes, but those cannot guarantee that certified wood is not linked to even the worst environmental and human rights abuses, such as clear-cutting of old-growth forest and large scale evictions. The standards will rely on company self-regulation. There is no regulatory body to check whether what companies are reporting is actually true.
In addition to this, public loan guarantees for this power station would contradict DECC’s position that the capacity of electricity-only (i.e. highly inefficient) biomass power stations should be limited. Scientific reports show that burning wood, especially wood from whole trees, commonly results in even more carbon dioxide emissions than burning coal per unit of energy, for a period of decades if not centuries.
Far from supporting job creation, biomass power stations are highly capital intensive and support very little employment. The Forestry Commission’s 2012 Statistics show that, while wood use for bioenergy has greatly increased in recent years, the number of jobs in forestry and related industries has decreased.
The government must not guarantee loans for projects which make climate change worse, fuel the destruction of other countries’ forests and expose UK communities to more toxic pollution.
I believe that the only energy schemes that should attract government support must be sustainable and genuinely low-carbon renewable energy ones such as sustainable wind and solar power.