National call to halt big biomass

Today, an alliance of local residents groups, national environmental NGO’s and politicians from across the political spectrum have called on the Scottish Government to place a moratorium on the construction of all large biomass plants in Scotland.

New research suggests that large biomass plants (like the ones that Forth Energy propose to build on Leith Docks, and in Dundee, Rosyth and Grangemouth) that do not use the heat they generate efficiently may take many, many decades to generate any carbon savings at all – yet the science of climate change and Scottish Government legislation demands that we cut our carbon emissions now. More and more people are therefore asking why these developments should qualify for hundreds of millions of pounds of ‘renewable energy’ subsidy from the tax payer if they won’t deliver in time.

Alastair Tibbitt, Development Manager from Greener Leith said “Calum Wilson, the Managing Director of Forth Energy, promised in public that he’d share data on how long it would take for his proposed biomass plants to provide a carbon saving. Weeks have passed and he’s not done this. We’ve contacted the “independent researchers” Forth Energy hired to conduct a life cycle analysis on their plans for this information. They say they can’t share what they know due to “commercial confidentiality.” Either Calum Wilson doesn’t know when the biomass plants will deliver any carbon savings, or he does know, and has chosen not to make this vital information public.”

“Either way – we don’t believe that the Scottish Government currently have enough information to make a decision that will commit tax payers to paying hundreds of millions of pounds of subsidy for years to come. That’s why we think a moratorium on all large biomass plans is needed. Independent research needs to be conducted that will identify the true carbon impact of these giant power plants.”

Juliet Swann, Head of Projects and Campaigns, at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:
“Small scale biomass plants, that have guaranteed customers for the heat they can produce are almost certainly set to be part of our energy mix. The kind of massive plant proposed by Forth Energy is diametrically opposed to this and is exactly what we don’t need if we are to move towards a truly sustainable energy future.”

Backing the call for a moratorium on Large Scale Biomass construction in Scotland, Sheila Gilmore, MP for Edinburgh East, said, ‘These so called “green plans” are not right for Edinburgh and Scotland. Sourcing the wood chippings from around the world is not green and the environmental impact needs to be fully assessed. We need to move to carbon neutral and reduced carbon energy using the resources that we do have in Scotland.”

“Today we have asked the Scottish Government to ensure that the real carbon debt is counted properly.  There are costs to our local environment and the forests this wood comes from.”

Robin Harper, Green MSP for the Lothians said, “It makes sense for Edinburgh and Leith to generate more power close to where it’s needed, but this is really not the right approach.”

The letter was signed by the following people and organisations:

  • Greener Leith
  • Friends of the Earth Scotland
  • Malcolm Chisholm MSP
  • Robin Harper MSP
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP
  • Sheila Gilmore MP
  • Mark Lazarowicz MP
  • Cllr Gordon Munro
  • Cllr Rob Munn (Deputy Lord Provost)
  • Cllr Maggie Chapman
  • Ronald Reid (Secretary, Leith Central Community Council)
  • Jim Scanlon (Chair, Leith Links Community Council)
  • Leith Links Residents Association
  • Tower Wharf Residents Association
  • Friends of the Water of Leith Basin
  • cadfael

    It would make far more sense to build an Anaerobic Digester, just as the Fair City of Perth is doing.
    Low profile
    No smoke or other noxious fumes
    Reduction of landfill tax burden
    No embedded subsidy
    Clean Energy, just like everyone wants
    Cleaner seas due to sewage reduction
    Healthier land due to less chemical application, using the resultant compost
    Win, win, win!
    What more could you ask for!

  • Ally

    The irony is that Forth Ports have planning permission for a number of smaller 'energy centres' around the docks. We support the development of smaller scale, diversified, low carbon energy supplies that scale-up as new development is built – this would allow for the development of a local heat network, be lower carbon, and offer more security of supply.