Calls to cut Drax power plant subsidies

A Yorkshire coal power station should not get millions of pound in support from government to convert to biomass, campaigners said yesterday. Last week Energy Secretary Ed Davey visited the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

A Yorkshire coal power station should not get millions of pound in support from government to convert to biomass, campaigners said yesterday.

Last week Energy Secretary Ed Davey visited the Drax power plant to see the system which will transport biomass to its first converted unit. Three units in total are set to eventually use biomass.

Wood for the plant comes from international suppliers and a small proportion comes from the UK.

Groups opposed to coal and biomass including Biofuelwatch and Coal Action Network criticised the plant. Oliver Munnion from Biofuelwatch said: “What DECC aren’t telling the public is that Drax’s half conversion to biomass, as well as being responsible for trashing ancient forests in the southern US, will extend the life of the other half of the power station which will continue to be fed on coal mined in Colombia, Russia and the UK.”

They claimed Drax is likely to get generous subsidies, pointing to calculations it could get £726 million worth of subsidies for its low carbon power. Neither Drax nor the Government have confirmed this figure.

However a DECC spokesperson said the department sets out “sustainability criteria” for its subsidy schemes, the Renewables Obligation and Renewable Heat Incentive, which are meant to ensure biomass used in the UK is sourced from “well-managed land”. New rules will cover “sustainable harvesting and restocking rates”.

Drax was unavailable to comment when contacted by ELN.