Electricity generated from biomass is spuriously subtitled as ‘green energy’, it emits more carbon than burning coal, yet is sold as ‘renewable’ – so therefore it is the axiom forestry is sustainable = that any and all trees burned can be replaced*.
Visit the Côte d’Azur in October and you will not fail to notice the heavy smog, the result of many hundreds, if not thousands, of large bonfires, burning the garden waste accumulated during the ‘no burn’ season. It is heartbreaking, and lung damaging, to watch so much potential energy wasted. To take the green waste away is a huge cost, particularly galling as the waste, either as compost or chippings, is sold on again. One would think it a no-brainer to have a small local biomass operation which can collect the waste at no cost as it can earn good money from electricity sales. Indeed surely this ‘wooden gold’ should be sold to the biomass plant.
Therefore plans for regional (I have even seen the word community used), biomass plants in the UK doing just this with ‘Arboricultural Arisings‘ makes considerable common sense.
However as with so many landscape issues in the UK there doesn’t appear to be much middle ground. A good idea is something the UK habitually runs away with, investing massively, promoting via government itself, without ever answering several questions – not least ‘how are you going to meet supply demands in the least forested country in Europe?’
But as multi-national companies take increasingly larger chunks of the ‘land management industries’ pie in the UK, operating sometimes with apparent immunity to existing good practice guidance should profit margins dictate, the situation takes a nasty turn for the worse. What should provide a solid base price for all wood waste, from forestry, arboriculture even gardening is lost in a world of corporate dealings which take little consideration of source, if any at all.
I am sure that someone realises’ the fragility of the biomass industry in terms of the current global political situation, post Brexit and shades of orange fascism looming across the Atlantic notwithstanding. 1,000,000,000 tonnes of American forest are required to help supply Drax. So why is the call ‘we need to plant lots of trees quickly’ so quiet?
Perhaps, as it appears from Sheffield’s unjustifiable tree slaughter, the answer is that short term gain from felling mature street trees is enough to see us through the difficult times until we can secure a deal with another tropical or boreal forest rich nation?
The street trees belonging to the people of Sheffield are being supplied as biomass and then sold back to them as energy!
An FOI request by one of the tree campaigners in Sheffield received this response: