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Letter To The Telegraph

February 6, 2017

By Paul Homewood



This is the letter I have just sent to the Sunday Telegraph in response to Dorothy Thompson’s yesterday:


Dorothy Thompson (Letters, 5th Feb) claims that Drax’s biomass plant makes carbon savings of 80%, compared with coal. However, this is based on EU accounting rules, which classify burning wood as “zero carbon”.

Drax’s own figures show that CO2 emissions from biomass are actually 12% greater than coal for each unit of electricity generated.

In the US,  environmentalists are horrified by the wanton destruction of ancient woodlands there, all in the name of supplying the ever increasing demand for wood pellets by European biomass plants.

For instance, one report by the Natural Resources Defense Council stated that “the massive additional demand for biomass being driven by the bioenergy industry now threatens to destroy ecosystems that can never be replaced”

Biomass is neither green nor sustainable



We’ll see if they print it!



Across the EU as a whole, biomass & renewable waste accounted for about 5% of total electricity generation in 2014, a similar proportion as in the UK.



  1. MALCOLM BELL permalink
    February 6, 2017 6:13 pm

    Fingers crossed – they could well do, they are sympathetic to “our” cause. Malcolm (Mike) Bell  Mobile 07802 920096 9 Foxhill Green Weetwood Leeds LS16 5 PQ   See Website

  2. AlecM permalink
    February 6, 2017 6:23 pm

    Perhaps we should suggest that the only people who can support this part of the scam have wooden heads?

    Just arsking…….

  3. NeilC permalink
    February 6, 2017 7:05 pm

    Paul, you never know they just might!

  4. February 6, 2017 7:10 pm

    Excellent letter. I confidently predict that it will get published.

  5. RichardG permalink
    February 6, 2017 7:11 pm

    Hope it is published and the BBC read it.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 7, 2017 6:54 am

      As it’s not in the Guardian the BBC are unlikely to read it.

  6. Robert Jones permalink
    February 6, 2017 7:45 pm

    It is an exemplary letter! If I had your gift for pungent brevity I might have had some of my letters to the Telegraph published too.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    February 6, 2017 7:48 pm

    A carefully measured response but one which strikes at the heart of this insanity; a politically inspired green nostrum ie, not burning coal and by some great contortion “wood is green”………….. making lopping trees for fire wood some sort of alternative.

    Thus, it hits hard and all of the facts make the letter so that, for any human being given to logic and factual analysis, this missive it is very difficult to challenge.

    Excellent Mr. Homewood and very well said indeed.

    • bea permalink
      February 7, 2017 11:07 am

      It could only be zero carbon if somebody planted an EXTRA tree, waited for it to grow and thus fix atmospheric CO2, and THEN was burned

  8. Jackington permalink
    February 6, 2017 8:09 pm

    Thompson’s weasel words need debunking and your letter will do it – if it is published – here’s hoping.

  9. February 6, 2017 9:31 pm

    Well written Paul. If the ST or the DT doesn’t publish it, they will get a letter from me.

  10. mothcatcher permalink
    February 6, 2017 9:48 pm

    Excellent penmanship, Paul.

    Brief and to the point. I have rarely had my missives published, but as you have probably noticed I’m rather wordy! Humour helps, but this isn’t a readily humourous subject. One very short comment of mine was published in the DTel and the STel a couple of days later, no idea why. Sometimes limited space is monopolised by people with titles or high-profile jobs but not always.

    Presumably Booker will use his column to respond, though, which STel might regard as enough?

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    February 6, 2017 10:42 pm

    … based on EU accounting rules, which classify burning wood as “zero carbon”.

    This rule ought to be challenged by someone or a Green-NGO, such as the NRDC, the WWF, or Sierra Club. The idea behind the rule that trees regrow and coal does not should have been thoroughly investigated before adoption. The consequences were easily predicted, had anyone tried. (I suspect they did, and were ignored.) Much damage has been and is being done. The rule needs to be un-done.

  12. February 7, 2017 12:11 am

    @jfh.A letter issued by the European Environment Agency Committee on 15.Sept.2011 stated that the EU RULES WERE INCORRECT,and this information should be transmitted to all concerned.In the case of the UK,it probably went into a DECC dustbin.
    When the UK coalminers find out that they have been lied to,and as a consequence that their livlihoods and communities destroyed for no good reason;the Jarrow march will look like a walk in the park.

  13. Richard111 permalink
    February 7, 2017 7:44 am

    Well, well! So burning wood chips produces 12% more CO2 !

    Wasn’t that the start of the industrial revolution when they discovered charcoal produced more heat?

  14. February 7, 2017 8:44 am

    Newly cut live trees contain a lot of moisture. Does the process to make pellets remove the moisture and if so, by what process?

    • February 7, 2017 9:39 am

      They reduce the moisture to a low level. Rotary dryers can be used for example.

      • Richard111 permalink
        February 7, 2017 11:03 am

        Interesting link thanks. No mention of the energy expended by the drying process, and that is BEFORE the chips are burnt to generate energy.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        February 7, 2017 12:36 pm

        So we now need to add in the cost (financial & energy & “pollution”) of drying into the alreay horrendous figures for felling, chipping, and transporting!

        Where will it end?

      • February 7, 2017 8:20 pm

        oldbrew: Thanks for the link. The heat required to evaporate 40%-50% moisture must by quite significant? Is this taken into account when calculating the CO2 output of Drax?

      • February 7, 2017 10:18 pm

        ‘If the pellets are made directly from forest material, it takes up to 18% of the energy [of the pellet] to dry the wood and additional 8% for transportation and manufacturing energy.’

  15. February 7, 2017 12:25 pm

    Good letter – crisp and to the point.

  16. Malcolm permalink
    February 7, 2017 12:30 pm

    Paul, you have to keep on trying to intervene in main stream media. If you do not then we are just a querulous tribe or, at best, a train spotters. I trust your reasoning and your figures are undeniable. You would be doing mankind a service by breaking into this metropolitan convention and this awful bout of misplaced virtue signalling.

    • John189 permalink
      February 7, 2017 4:14 pm

      I had a quick look at the link and can’t decide whether it is full of misconceptions or very carefully written to give false impressions. “The UK is experiencing more severe weather events in winter, and in spring and autumn too” – it’s just woolly wordage. I think we have a big problem in the fact that unproven “science” has been moulded into the indisputable, factual basis for government policy at all levels. So, when organisations from local authorities to charities decide they must develop their own climate change strategies, they start from the wrong end, and the “settled science” is then amplified to an absurd degree by their activity.

  17. February 8, 2017 6:45 pm

    To Mike @12.45,feb7.
    Thanks for conf.of letter.Lost in my fool proof filing system???

  18. John Burton permalink
    February 9, 2017 5:58 pm

    I was under the impression that burning wood was considered “zero carbon” because the amount of carbon it releases into the atmosphere was the same it took to grow the tree in the first place?

    This is just something I’ve heard as someone who owns a wood burning/multifuel stove (I also happen to burn coal in it too)

    I haven’t read all the responses but an answer to this would be nice.


    • February 10, 2017 10:41 am

      But the CO2 emitted from burning it will only be removed from the atmosphere once a replacement tree has grown, which can take up to 100 yrs in some of the US forests (and that is assuming it is even replanted)

      Then next year we’ll chop down another forest, and the year after, etc etc, so it will be even longer before CO2 is back into balance

      Given that we have been told we must drastically reduce emissions now, and not in 100 yrs time, it all sounds a bit hypocritical.

  19. February 9, 2017 7:02 pm

    Has anyone considered that resurrecting hemp farming could solve the whole trees-for-biomass issue on an annually renewable basis? Just asking…

  20. February 9, 2017 8:35 pm

    I just wonder if, as Drax claim, the tonnage of wood they use is just the waste, where is all the ‘good’ wood going? If we know that, we should be able to determine the tonnage, then we will know if Drax are being truthful or pulling a bit more wool over our eyes.

  21. February 12, 2017 8:51 am

    As promised: Herewith my complaint to the ST sent today.

    I am concerned that you have not seen fit to publish Paul Holmwood’s letter in response to Dorothy Thompson’s (5th. Feb) on the subject of Biomass use at Drax Power Station.
    Mr. Holmwood’s (6th. Feb) letter is backed by information available on the “notalotofpeopleknowthat” website and puts into perspective the realities of biomass use in energy production, particularly at Drax and therefore deserves publication in the light of Ms. Thompson’s comments.
    May I suggest that your readers deserve the truth now, in this era of “Post-truth” media?
    My regards,

  22. MALCOLM BELL permalink
    August 3, 2017 9:57 am

    Paul I circulated the note below to a breakfast club of a few of us sceptics  have twice a month. I thought it might interest you too? We are keen followers of your blog.

    In friendship,Malcolm (Mike) Bell 9 Foxhill Green, Weetwood, Leeds, LS16 5PQ. Mobile 07802 920096

    Begin forwarded message:

  23. MALCOLM BELL permalink
    September 12, 2017 4:06 pm

    Paul I wonder if you know about this? I will send to you a follow up note Alastair sent to me (he is one of the leading racing engine designers of the last generation) which shows how dreadful a Tesla is in terms of CO2 emission including its charging cycle.

    I will also send an outline of the staggering problem facing us on recycling – or not – the Li-Ion batteries that cars will need.

    In friendship,Malcolm (Mike) Bell 9 Foxhill Green, Weetwood, Leeds, LS16 5PQ. Mobile 07802 920096

    Begin forwarded message:

  24. MALCOLM BELL permalink
    September 12, 2017 4:09 pm

    Paul This is more about batteries and Tesla. For comparison a petrol two litre car with two passengers being driven normally emits about 240 g/km. That is about half the full cycle emission from a Tesla!

    In friendship,Malcolm (Mike) Bell 9 Foxhill Green, Weetwood, Leeds, LS16 5PQ. Mobile 07802 920096

    Begin forwarded message:

  25. MALCOLM BELL permalink
    September 12, 2017 4:11 pm

    Paul The attached below speaks for itself. You will hear the message louder than any of us. Serious trouble.

    In friendship,Malcolm (Mike) Bell 9 Foxhill Green, Weetwood, Leeds, LS16 5PQ. Mobile 07802 920096

    Begin forwarded message:

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