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Drax faces questions over wood sourcing

According to a BBC investigation, Drax, benefitting from £6 billion in UK green subsidies, has been burning wood sourced from some of the planet's most valuable forests

Drax, a major power company benefitting from £6 billion in UK green subsidies, has been found to persist in burning wood from some of the world’s most precious forests, according to documents obtained by BBC Panorama.

Panorama has obtained documents from the Ministry of Forests in British Columbia, revealing that the company extracted over 40,000 tonnes of wood from so-called “old-growth” forests in 2023.

These forests, as defined by the provincial government, provide unique habitats, structures and ecological functions.

A Drax spokesperson said: “We are confident our biomass is sustainable and legally harvested and meets the requirements of our 2019 sourcing policy.

“The document the BBC has referred to was published in 2017, was not a policy and is now obsolete. As a responsible business, we keep our sourcing policy and practices under regular review so that they take account of evolving forest dynamics, legislation, policy and science.

“In October 2023, Drax made the decision to stop sourcing wood fibre directly from harvest sites which overlap with Old Growth Deferral Areas, in response to policy changes introduced by the Government of British Columbia. Work to implement this decision through the supply chain is ongoing.

“As a direct consequence of our decision, deliveries to Drax from the fourth harvest area originally cited by the BBC were stopped.

“The BBC has also stated that since our October 2023 decision, Drax took material from 12 harvest sites that include or ‘overlap’ with Old Growth Priority Deferral Areas’.

“This statement is misleading because Drax’s policy is to no longer directly source wood fibre from within these harvest sites where there is overlap with Old Growth Deferral Areas. To suggest otherwise would be a misrepresentation of our operations.

“Fibre that Drax has sourced from publicly owned forests in British Columbia has been designated as being available to harvest legally and sustainably by the Government of British Columbia, alongside First Nations.

“We do not own forests or sawmills and are not responsible for the licensing and harvesting of forests.

“Drax sources its biomass from sawmill residues, harvesting residues, and fibre which has little other use or market value. We also use low-grade roundwood that is not suitable for sawmilling or cannot access higher-value markets.”

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