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SNP biomass network comes under fire

A new report claims that a planned group of biomass power plants in Scotland, UK, developed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) could harm the environment and result in the loss of thousands of jobs.

The report by Edinburgh-based John Clegg Consulting and commissioned by the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) claims that party leader Alex Salmond’s green revolution brings to the forefront issues such as the shortage of local wood. This lack of domestic wood means that millions of tonnes of timber will have to be imported to supply the plants.

As well as the greenhouse gases emitted through the transportation of this wood, the independent study highlighted that this boom in biomass plants would put Scottish timber-processing companies out of business.

The increase in demand is expected to surpass supply before the biggest biomass plants have even been constructed. A small number of plants is currently operational in Scotland but over 12 are in the pipeline that will have not yet been constructed by the time supply is exceeded in 2011.

The biggest of these will generate 225MW once online and is located in Hunterston, North Ayrshire. Other biomass plants include four 100MW facilities, which alone would utilise 4 million tonnes of wood annually. This figure is almost half off all timber production in Scotland.

Chief executive of ConFor Stuart Goodall said: ‘Diverting wood from existing users to large-scale biomass plants will be bad for the environment and bad for jobs. By subsidising the dash to large-scale biomass, the Scottish government threatens to damage its own aim of a low-carbon economy – creating an artificial market that undermines its environmental and economic objectives. The policy will create a huge demand for wood that just isn’t there.’