Latest News - Friends of the Earth US wades into Forth Energy debate

Friends of the Earth US wades into Forth Energy debate
Wed, Apr 6, 2011

Friends of the Earth (FOE) US have added their voice to the growing number of opponents to a proposed biomass plant in Leith.  In an open letter written by their biofuels campaign coordinator, Kate McMahon urges the Scottish Government to reject Forth Energy’s proposals.


The FOE contribution marks a significant addition to the debate about biomass demand and its impact on the natural environment and existing forest markets.  In addition to highlighting the impact on ecosystems, biodiversity and sustainability, Ms McMahon stresses the impact of increasing demand on existing forest product industries. Quoting a peer-reviewed study, the letter asserts that as ‘prices increase marginal wood consumers in existing markets will be displaced’.  As things stand in the UK, current subsidies for biomass mean this remains a very real threat for wood processors such as the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF).


Furthermore, Ms McMahon criticises Forth Energy’s application for failing to consider growing biomass demand both in the US and in the UK.  The demand precipitated by the Port of Tilbury plant alone equals 7.5 million tonnes of wood per year, the majority of which will be sourced from North America. The FOE US letter makes it very clear that current supplies of North American wood will not be able to meet the combined biomass demand in the UK and US.  Forth Energy’s proposal to build multiple biomass plants, therefore, is distinctly unsustainable and their assertions that they will source wood from producers certified by the "Sustainable Forestry Initiative" (SFI) or by the "Forest Stewardship Council" (FSC) are a long way from addressing the sustainability problem.


FOE US have made a welcome contribution to the debate.  It would appear that the WPIF is not alone in believing that current approaches to biomass need a serious rethink.

The letter can be viewed here:


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