Biomass plant, Sweden: Biomass plant, SwedenForth Energy is pushing to build four large biomass power stations at Scottish ports that will burn millions of tonnes of imported timber every year. There are currently plans for large scale biomass plants in:
The proposals are part of a boom in biomass plans in the UK which would double the size of the world wood for energy market, creating a major threat to biodiversity, indigenous land rights, food security and the climate.
The proposed developments will need around 4-5m tonnes of wood a year – much more than can be produced in Scotland. Forth Energy themselves admit that the “majority” will be sourced from abroad.
They claim it will come Scandinavia and the United States. But they are still considering many more and potentially cheaper options. Proposals for new logging and plantations to feed European demand are emerging all over the developing world: in countries like Indonesia, Guyana and Liberia.
Without legally binding controls there would be nothing to prevent Forth Energy promising one thing to get planning permission and then doing another, as MGT Power on Teesside did when dumping plans to get timber from North America in favour of cheap eucalyptus from unsustainable plantations in Brazil.
There is already evidence that Europe’s demand for biomass is causing hunger and food insecurity for communities across the world, particularly in Africa, where industrial monoculture tree plantations frequently displace crops and grazing land.
In some cases grabbing by multinationals has led to serious human rights violations, as communities are forced off their land to make way for large scale plantations. Meanwhile, the plantations themselves lead to soil erosion, wildlife loss and the spread of invasive seeds into neighbouring farms and communities.
Even if sustainable wood is sourced, the increased demand for wood by biomass will push up the demand for more unsustainable logging elsewhere.