Around 75 organisations, including environmental and public health bodies, trade unions and community groups, have sent an open letter to the UK government calling for renewable energy subsidies to be redirected away from biomass to wind and solar power.
The letter, organised by Biofuelwatch, was sent to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) which oversees energy subsidies.
Biomass is classified as renewable energy under UK law and receives subsidies on this basis.
A growing number of scientists are speaking out against this classification, including the European Academies Scientific Advisory Council and nearly 800 scientists who wrote to the EU Commission in 2018 calling for forest biomass to be removed from the renewable category, Biofuelwatch stated.
Earlier this year, a coalition of environmental advocacy groups launched the Cut Carbon Not Forests campaign to “expose the UK’s wasteful subsidies” for companies that burn trees for electricity and to put public pressure on policymakers to support reform.
Redirecting biomass subsidies to support solar and wind is the primary goal of Cut Carbon Not Forests, which urges supporters to take action by emailing their local MP.
The same coalition is also supporting a Europe-wide petition calling on policymakers and member states to end subsidies and other incentives for burning forest wood and redirect critical support to energy efficiency and true clean and renewable energy sources.
The petition – supported by international organisations, including Greenpeace – also demands the prioritisation of forest protection and restoration to safeguard public health, the climate and biodiversity.
Sasha Stashwick for the Cut Carbon Not Forests Campaign said: “Biomass electricity is getting in the way of addressing the climate emergency.
“Drax Power Station alone receives £2m in bill payers’ money every single day despite its record of pollution and forest destruction.
“This is money that should be spent on real climate solutions not more dirty energy.
“This letter is part of a groundswell of action against biomass electricity receiving public money: over 2,000 Britons have contacted their local MP already calling for the UK government to redirect these subsidies to true clean energy.”
Anne Harris from the Coal Action Network added: “After decades of campaigning and action by frontline communities and thousands of grassroots activists, the UK is finally moving away from coal fired power.
“It's vital that public money spent on electricity production goes to genuinely renewable energy from sources which aren't depleted as energy is generated.
“Drax power station still consumes coal, albeit producing less than half the amount of electricity from coal compared to biomass. Drax's fuel sources are unsustainable."