First meeting of biomass parliamentary group
16 March 2012
The case for biomass was taken to parliament this week as the Biomass All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) met for the first time.
The group has been launched to explore all aspects of biomass use for the production of renewable energy in what is ‘critical’ time for the industry with the government’s Bioenergy Strategy imminent and funding decisions expected in the summer in response to the RO Banding Consultation.
The group is made up of 20 MPs including Andrew George, Zac Goldsmith, Lord O’Neill of Clackmannan, Ian Swales and Dr Alan Whitehead.
At its first meeting on Tuesday (March 13) the group hosted a debate on ‘The Case for Sustainable Biomass’ with an expert panel from across the biomass industry.
The debate, which was chaired by the APPG chairman Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, featured guest speakers including: Charles Thwaites MBE, Forest Stewardship council; Dr Jeremy Woods, Imperial College London; Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU; Dr Nigel Burdett, Drax; and, Gaynor Hartnell, Renewable Energy Association (REA).
It focused on the impact and importance of new UK Government Sustainability Criteria, which comes into force in 2013, as well as the development of sustainability criteria at EU-level which is currently undergoing consultation.
Speaking at the meeting Ms Hartnell, chief executive of the REA, said: “The establishment of the Biomass APPG represents an important milestone in getting recognition for the importance of heat and power from sustainable biomass which offers proven, practical, secure low carbon energy as part of a balanced energy mix a message that the REA continues to drive home through the Back Biomass Campaign.
“The strength of support for the biomass APPG from the industry and beyond is a sign of the deep interest in the future of this technology and a signal to Government that clarity is needed to ensure the jobs and growth that biomass can deliver attracts the investment it needs. Keeping up the pressure on government remains as important as ever.”
The REA launched its Back Biomass Campaign in August 2011 (see letsrecycle.com story).
Also announced this week, Drax has awarded a contract to construction and property developer Shepherd Group to build a biomass storage and handling facility at its power station in Selby, North Yorkshire as part of a £50 million investment in the site.
The contract will also see Shepherd conduct other plant modifications at the co-firing site which will allow Drax to produce up to 20% of the station’s output from sustainable biomass.
Commenting on the contract Mark Perkins, chief executive of Shepherd’s Built Environment Division, said: “We are delighted to be working with Drax. Shepherd Group’s designers have worked closely with the Drax team to develop integrated technical solutions that will create world leading biomass facilities and support Drax’s intention to become a lower carbon generator. The project will also generate wider opportunities for local people in terms of employment and skills training, and we will be maximising opportunities for local businesses, working closely with our supply chain partners throughout the build.”