Monday, November 30, 2009

Undercurrents film direct action against Biomass plant in Wales

Undercurrents have been filming this morning as Climate activists block the worlds largest biomass plant planned for Port Talbot

Activists from Climate Camp Cymru have blockaded a biomass plant in Port Talbot to protest against plans to produce electricity from imported woodchips.

Two protestors used bicycle locks to close off the plant’s entrance, stopping the hourly 20-tonne deliveries of woodchip needed to keep the power station operating. A large banner on the gates reads “Biomess”. Other activists climbed up the chimney to unfurl a giant banner in Welsh reading “Clean Energy: Dirty Joke”.

The plant is the first of its kind in the UK, incinerating woodchips to generate electricity. It is a test plant for the large-scale plants that have been announced in Britain. The world’s largest biomass plant (350 MW) has already been approved in Port Talbot and construction is due to start early next year. The second largest in the world is planned for Holyhead, Anglesey.

Rob Goodsell, 33 said, “The Port Talbot and Holyhead biomass plants will require an area of dedicated biomass plantations half the size of Wales. A land area this size could feed up to a third of the population of Britain. With the world facing serious food security issues in coming years this is crazy.”

Ioan Gwyn, 29 said: “The power companies said the wood will come from sustainable sources but the reality is very different. In 2008 about 9 million hectares of industrial tree plantations have been certified as sustainable despite evidence of their devastating effects on people and the environment [2]. These plantations are in fact green deserts: they consume vast amounts of water and are empty of native wildlife.”

Melissa Harvey commented: “Burning wood is called carbon neutral but this is a myth. It’s hard to believe but burning wood for electricity is even dirtier than coal. It releases one and half as much carbon dioxide as burning coal, [4] and the other pollution affecting air quality is nearly as bad as coal.” [5]

Adam Thorogood said: “We’re going to cook the world’s remaining forests to fight climate change. At this rate, research shows that the world’s forests will be all gone within the next 60 years.”

Ioan Gwyn commented: “Burning wood releases carbon dioxide. Each plant will emit about 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. This means that Wales’ carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 20% as soon as Port Talbot and Holyhead biomass plant open. Whilst scientists are warning of the fragility of forest ecosystems, the UK government is subsidising their destruction by giving these two developers £400 million a year. Instead, they should be giving subsidies to truly clean energy, such as wind and solar power.” [6]

Rob Goodsell added: “Forests play a key role in sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The best thing to do is to leave the carbon locked up as wood, and that means not burning it.”

Melissa Harvey concluded: “Catastrophic climate change could be unstoppable in as little as 10 years. This is our last window of opportunity. False solutions such as biomass and carbon trading mean we’ll have no chance at all. And when we talk about catastrophic climate change, we’re not talking hot summers, we’re talking about the question of survival.”
More here
Video report will be uploaded soon