Skip to content

MPs Finally Wake Up To Biomass Scandal

December 17, 2021

By Paul Homewood



Burning wood to create power is a ‘scandal’, 50 MPs warn the energy minister in a letter today.

The letter – which has cross-party support – marks a major shift in political opinion over the burning of biomass, which is currently classed by the Government as a green form of energy.

The letter says the extra emissions produced by biomass ‘are the equivalent of three million Ford Fiestas on our roads’.

Organised by Peter Bottomley, Father of the House of Commons, the letter calls for a meeting with Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng to discuss ending subsidies to the Drax power plant in Yorkshire.

The plant supplies about 12 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity, and is Europe’s biggest wood-burning power station.

The letter states: ‘The sacrifices constituents are being asked to make to reach net zero are huge.

‘Neither they nor we can understand why it was decided to give Drax £4 billion of subsidies from electricity bills to create even more carbon dioxide. This scandal demands an immediate response.’

Signatories include the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas and the SNP’s Ian Blackford. They say scientists warn that burning wood for energy will worsen global warming in the short term.

It’s a pity these MPs did not raise their concerns years ago, before the subsidy contracts were awarded. By law, they cannot now be rescinded.

And rather than writing to Kwasi Kwarteng objecting about the £4bn of subsidies, perhaps they should have written instead to Ed Davey, who awarded the subsidies when he was Energy Secretary.

  1. George Herraghty permalink
    December 17, 2021 10:09 am

    What impact will renewable energy policies have on global climate?
    The short answer: NONE
    Green Dreams, Mark Mills. Details here —

    • T Walker permalink
      December 17, 2021 11:28 am

      Thank you George for the link. Mark Mills always writes clear easily digested points – here is another article based on a paper he wrote last year, that I often refer to when someone waxes lyrical on the subject of renewables etc.

      It always amazes me how some people cannot contemplate the utter ecological devastation that flows from the realities of their pre-conceived magical thinking.

      2 of his 41 points should cause anyone with a science or engineering background some more than casual thought.

      19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

      36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

  2. Nick permalink
    December 17, 2021 10:13 am

    This is a very stupid time in human history

    • T Walker permalink
      December 17, 2021 11:29 am

      Are we at Peak Stupidity yet Nick?

      • Ian PRSY permalink
        December 17, 2021 11:32 am

        As can be seen with the woke rubbish being promulgated, we’re definitely past peak evolution.

      • Vernon Evenson permalink
        December 18, 2021 3:20 pm

        Ian: You are right. Maslow’s triangle of human needs puts esteem at the peak of evolution. We’ve hit it.

  3. Gerry, England permalink
    December 17, 2021 10:29 am

    Ross Clark has a whole page on this in today’s Mail. A shame that he still thinks there is any problem with using coal. A previous page to this has the news that a Cornish steam railway is bringing in coal from Kazakhstan as coal from across the Bristol Channel is no longer available thanks to the stupidity of the soon to be former Prime Minister’s NetZero policies.

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      December 17, 2021 11:22 am

      Poland was the ‘local’ source of coal for the heritage railways. There’ll be some bleating from the NUR when the wood chip trains stop running to Drax. If you did not the first time see Michael Moore’s film on green fuel power generation. On You Tube when I last looked.

  4. Nicholas Lewis permalink
    December 17, 2021 10:32 am

    At least the nonsense that has been perpetuated here is at last starting to be aired in mainstream media and if nothing else it should prevent the subsidies being extended beyond 2027.

  5. December 17, 2021 10:43 am

    Took a long time for that penny to drop. The whole idea of transporting and burning wood to reduce emissions was crazy from the start. The reason this idea is counter intuitive is that it is just stupid.

    • December 17, 2021 11:23 am

      It all stems from the stupid EU RE Directive with the burning of wood being defined as renewable energy.

      • December 17, 2021 11:41 am

        And that is exactly why it will never change. The EU has a standardised method for calculating CO2 emissions, and wood biomass is classed as low carbon in that method. If the UK reclassified it, we would increase our CO2 emission figure, whilst our “EU friends” carried on using biomass with no impact on their emissions figures.
        Coupled with our apparent determination to remain in lockstep with EU regulations, so that we could re-join more easily, this is why biomass will continue to be classed as low carbon.

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        December 17, 2021 12:01 pm

        But even if you accept the basic argument, Phillip, the environmental cost in real pollution (and CO2 emissions) of felling, chipping, and transporting from the forests in the US to Yorkshire must outweigh the emissions from mining and transporting the coal from — literally — under their feet and rather than claim (dubiously) that new planting will sequester the CO2 generated mañana (supposing there actually is any new planting!) why not burn the coal as cleanly as possible and leave the American forests to sequester the CO2 NOW?!
        It’s hardly O-level Physics, let alone rocket science, and just one further piece of evidence that the argument has nothing to do with CO2 per se and everything to do with what I frequently call “unpicking the Industrial Revolution”. It’s lifestyle they’re attacking; climate has nothing to do with it. Why our politicos haven’t the wit to see that is beyond me.

      • December 17, 2021 12:21 pm

        All the politicians who agree with this stupidity deserve the label, first used by James Dellingpole I believe, of ‘Watermelons’. Green on the outside but red inside; which explains their desire to ruin the economy of the country. And of course their very little brains cannot come up with an understanding of the damage they will cause.

      • StephenP permalink
        December 17, 2021 11:01 pm

        Yet no-one seems to have twigged on that it takes 80+ years before any form of equilibrium is achieved with wood biomass, and meanwhile a massive amount of CO2 has been added to the atmosphere.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        December 17, 2021 11:20 pm

        I suspect as the EU backed this horse as it looked as though they were doing something to support the environment and at the time wind and solar looked even more flaky than they do now. It now looks like the EU’s latest directive is moving to reel back in biomass so this edifice is starting to crumble.

  6. T Walker permalink
    December 17, 2021 10:49 am

    Well isn’t it heartening that it has only taken a decade or so for realists to break through the barrier of stupidity.

    A search back through this blog, GWPF, Bishop Hill, tallbloke, Energy Matters and others over the last 15 years will throw up (pun intended) a lot of articles pointing this out.

    Too many people either on the Kool-aid or so frightened to go against the “established” wisdom.

    I am getting too old to think I will see the end game, which is annoying. The trouble with old age is that it has no future in it.

    • Penda100 permalink
      December 17, 2021 12:08 pm

      “The trouble with old age is that it has no future in it” is very true – but it’s better than the alternative.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 17, 2021 1:22 pm

      Even David Rose uses the usual cop-out line: “We certainly need a more reliable form of low-carbon energy…” as if he really, truly believes in AGW anyway. Or maybe it’s just what is required to get his copy printed.

      What was also noticeable about the DM article was their picture of Drax in full flow: All the steam from cooling towers and the smoke from the furnace chimney was….white! If this had been an article about Drax burning coal they would have doctored the pic so that it all looked black – as usually happens..

  7. David permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:00 am

    This just proves how virtually all our MPs are so stupid over climate change and energy that they can’t even work out what a nine year old could work out the back of a fag packet in five minutes. – It took them ten years!!

  8. David Wild permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:03 am

    And, without Drax, there’s even less chance of maintaining power when the sun don’t shine and the wind stalls.
    With the possibility of some colder weather, Boris and the greens have led us into a real mess.
    Maybe that’s what they intended to do: back to the Middle Ages?

  9. John Peter permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:08 am

    “At least the nonsense that has been perpetuated here is at last starting to be aired in mainstream media and if nothing else it should prevent the subsidies being extended beyond 2027.”
    Good if the subsidies last until 2027. That gives us six years to convert the politicians to the idea of converting DRAX back to burning coal and providing more efficient dispatchable energy. They could even negotiate a deal now to start the conversion earlier and in stages by smoothing out the subsidies.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      December 17, 2021 1:24 pm

      I’ll believe that, John when I see a reprint of the article in the Guardian.

  10. December 17, 2021 11:13 am

    Not only has this utterly stupid policy caused more particulates in the air but had dramatically increased the cost of all wood products and residues by up to 50% Bark, fencing, structural Timber, Paper and Cardboard product also increased well above inflation. What morons thought that this policy would work?

  11. Max permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:14 am

    Of all the new green energy sources, biomass has to be the dumbest one ever. How it ever qualified for green subsidies is beyond me – at the end of the day wood is just “inefficient coal”

  12. The Informed Consumer permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:18 am

    The turning worm?

  13. Mike Jackson permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:30 am

    Well, that’s 50. Only 600 to go. At least somebody has at last identified what arguably is the silliest idea of all — well on a par with “we had to destroy the village to save it”!

  14. Sobaken permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:33 am

    You have to realise that it will not convert back to coal, it’s most likely going to shut down entirely. Meaning that there will be even less reliable electricity generation available.

  15. Don Vickers permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:33 am

    No Sh*t Sherlock

  16. Gamecock permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:57 am

    The root of the problem with biomass, as well as wind/solar, is the matter of scale. Human demand for energy is vastly greater than b/w/s can provide.

    The Greentards believe that biomass can produce significant energy. It can’t. Neither can wind/solar, with w/s suffering the additional problem of being unreliable. As the kid with the fag packet could have told them.

    The cessation of CO2 emissions means death.

    ‘The sacrifices constituents are being asked to make to reach net zero are huge.’

    Well, yeah. Death is a big deal to some people. The 50 MPs are crying over money. This is way bigger than money.

  17. Aaron Halliwell permalink
    December 17, 2021 11:59 am

    “A senior executive from Drax is stepping down from her role on the Climate Change Committee (CCC) after more than four years of service.

    “The news comes after concerns were raised that Dr Becky Heaton’s roles at Drax and the CCC represented a conflict of interest.” – July, 2021

    • T Walker permalink
      December 17, 2021 12:24 pm

      What about the rest of the committee??? No conflicts at all??

      O/T – have you seen that Electroverse has had their advertising blocked.

      First they came for Electroverse and ……………………….

      • December 17, 2021 3:18 pm

        Electroverse appears to be just one guy like Paul
        hardly a massive corp

        “The Toxic Ten’s websites have received nearly 1.1 billion visits in the last six months prior to COP26,” bemoans the CCDH, “earning those that are part of Google’s AdSense platform an estimated $3.6 million in revenue” — but this is a paltry sum,

        CCDH are connected to Labour Party’s HopeNotHate and its off shoot Stop Funding Hate
        Heavily routed in Alinsky the MO is to clear the way for the Labour Party by incapacitating people who stand against Labour
        by monstering them with toxic labels and hindering their funding.

      • December 17, 2021 5:28 pm

        There is a freedom of speech principle here
        Attacking someones funding
        is interfering with their right to free speech.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        December 17, 2021 4:20 pm

        I wonder if we shall ever get a Centre for Defining What is Digital Hate? (Is it just giving someone a Churchill?)

  18. GeoffB permalink
    December 17, 2021 12:06 pm

    Chris Huhne was behind all this move to wood pellets when he was Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in 2010. He resigned in 2013, imprisoned for perjury. After release he was Chairman of Zilkha Biomass Energy supplying wood pellets. Draw your own conclusions.
    heres my comments on yesterdays telegraph article on the subject of Drax.
    Geoff Be

    23 HRS AGO
    Message Actions
    Drax sits in the Selby coalfield, just convert back to coal, the existing chimney scrubbers will take out the soot and acid, there will be less carbon dioxide, locally sourced fuel and no subsidies for using biomass, If Drax ever get carbon dioxide capture to work then use it on the coal fired generation. What is there to lose? Only Drax’s huge profits. By the way carbon dioxide is a beneficial trace gas, producing all of our food from plants. As well as preserving food and putting the fizz in beer and soft drinks, it is not a pollutant.


    • Martyn Farmer permalink
      December 17, 2021 1:28 pm

      As at 13.15 COAL 5%, Wind 2%, Solar 3%.

  19. Mr T permalink
    December 17, 2021 12:25 pm

    Producing electricity from burning wood is green because you can re-plant the trees. Obviously a very large number of trees need to be planted to replace each tree cut down.

    How many trees for how long for each tree destroyed is a difficult question but the answer must be well above one for quite a long time. I have enjoyed challenging people with the concept that the same number of trees should be planted but coal should be burnt rather than wood. This would produce less CO2 for the same amount of energy. Of course burning natural gas rather than coal would be even greener but there is a slight price and supply problem with that at the moment.

    It follows from this that if more trees are planted subsidising burning coal makes more sense than subsidising burning trees.

    • Gamecock permalink
      December 17, 2021 2:15 pm

      “Producing electricity from burning wood is green because you can re-plant the trees.”

      The fallacy being that they conveniently overlook the starting point. Trees.

      They will always be behind the starting point.

  20. John Peter permalink
    December 17, 2021 12:42 pm

    I always suspected that the high pressure like winter 1995/96 would return. Fortunately, this time it came from the south, so we have 1-10C night-day instead of -15 to -5C. Seems to be set for at least a week.
    Reading National Grid this morning wind has produced 0.60 to 0.75 GW or less than 2% of demand with around 7.5GW from interconnectors. Gas running at around 22.5GW so reserves must be eaten up with potentially dire consequences if we get a tough winter.
    Cannot understand why our politicians are so dim. Do they not get information and recommendations about what to do to secure supply of energy? Yesterday’s byelection ought to be a warning that at some point the voters will respond with a vengeance if they get things seriously wrong. I think they are in an echo chamber.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      December 17, 2021 11:15 pm

      “Gas running at around 22.5GW so reserves must be eaten up with potentially dire consequences if we get a tough winter.” And then some cosmic genius suggests getting rid of gas and having hydrogen in lieu. Hydrogen has a third of the energy density by volume of methane hence storage energy value effectively drops by 75%. Our chronic lack of gas storage just got terminally bad.

      • Nicholas Lewis permalink
        December 17, 2021 11:31 pm

        Storage is currently on par with last year having recovered from its deficit in early autumn. This from NG prevailing view dashboard

        Weather has been onside even when wind output has been low for last few weeks but we have few months to go yet.

  21. Dave Gardner permalink
    December 17, 2021 12:44 pm

    It’s interesting that Caroline Lucas has signed the letter. It looks like the UK Green Party now has a policy on biomass.

    Paul Homewood pointed out that the Green Party had no policy on biomass in 2017:

  22. Cheshire Red permalink
    December 17, 2021 12:59 pm

    Smart move by Peter Bottomley, whose been on the right side of eco-lunacy ever since he voted against the CC Act in 2008.

    Anti-Drax gets cross party support because it’s plainly and demonstrably daft, but this will also open up a wider debate on other energy matters. He’ll be ready for those too, I have no doubt.

    • StephenP permalink
      December 17, 2021 10:53 pm

      Does anyone know if someone is briefing Peter Bottomley with the facts and figures on electricity generation from different sources. If so, who, as it seems to bethe ideal way to get some sense into the debate?

  23. Robin Guenier permalink
    December 17, 2021 1:17 pm

    Slightly off-topic: it’s interesting that coal’s contribution to our electricity demand (5%) is the same as wind and solar combined. (Biomass contributes a useful 6%.)

  24. mjr permalink
    December 17, 2021 1:30 pm

    the concept of cutting down US forests, converting the wood to pellets, shipping it to Immingham, then sticking it on a train to Drax and then burning it was always farcical. Drax (along with Ferrybridge, Eggborough and Thorpe Marsh) were built on the Selby coalfield and supplied by Kellingley (Big K) colliery, With the scrubbers and filters incorporated into the plant they were efficient and relatively clean (especially compared to german, indian or chinese plants). Ferrybridge had a plant to convert nasty stuff into plasterboard.
    Madness that we live on such resource and the even more usable shale gas deposits and dont use them.

    • Nicholas Lewis permalink
      December 17, 2021 7:50 pm

      It is but its still in the ground and ain’t going anywhere!!

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      December 17, 2021 8:25 pm

      Even more significant and sad, these power stations were designed and built in the UK. All of our waste fired boilers and CCGT stations are EU supplied, with negligible UK content – just like the windmills and solar cells of course.

  25. tym fern permalink
    December 17, 2021 1:40 pm

    And as of 1330 today in UK coal is generating more electricity than solar and wind put together!

  26. December 17, 2021 2:46 pm

    Is anyone, MP, civil servant, whoever, responsible for this ? Heads should roll aplenty. And what about the subsidy for wind farms: +/- the same cost. The system appears unfit for purpose ?

    • devonblueboy permalink
      December 17, 2021 3:11 pm

      State employees are totally unlike those taxpayers who fund them in the commercial world. There is a lot of authority without responsibility. If they do make a massive mistake and are unable to swerve responsibility then they get moved on to another state job with an increased salary and their gold plated pension intact.
      They only talk to others in the Westminster bubble thereby suffering groupthink to an excessive degree. We all thought that ‘Yes Minister’ and ‘Yes Prime Minister’ were comedies. It turns out that they were prescient horror stories.
      It doesn’t even enter their (supposedly) highly intellectual brains that destroying the economy will leave them without jobs too.

  27. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 17, 2021 2:54 pm

    Meanwhile the German decision to defer approval on Nordstream 2 at least until next autumn (and thus too late for the main storage injection season) has sent gas and power prices soaring again, and pushed up prices for next year. It will be made worse by their impending nuclear closures and accelerated coal phase out programme. I wonder how long before their voters feel severe remorse.

  28. December 17, 2021 3:13 pm

    “marks a major shift in political opinion over the burning of biomass,”
    .. Que ? the facts were the facts before they started the project
    – burning today’s trees outputs CO2
    – outputs air dirtier than same coal power
    – newly planted trees don’t grown by much in the first year
    – The EU was always wrong to mark woodburning as CarbonNeutral from Day one

    Context : Drax was to move to some gas production
    the government didn’t block directly

    Jan 21 Court of appeals dismisses @ClientEarth’s case against Beis after it granted @DraxGroup
    planning permission for a gas plant on the site of two of its existing coal units
    Feb 25th Drax on its own decides to abandon the gas power project.
    One thing is it would have need purchase guarantees from government.

  29. subseaeng permalink
    December 17, 2021 3:32 pm

    Jeeeez!! Took them long enough. Where have they been? Who advises them? They must only read The Beano or similar.

  30. It doesn't add up... permalink
    December 17, 2021 6:05 pm

    A number of us used woodburners during the recent extended power cuts. There is a danger these will be forbidden too. A trong case nees to be made to guard against the consequences of intermittency imposed by renewables.

    • December 17, 2021 8:47 pm

      I don’t see a world where, for householders using a woodburner during a power cut to stay warm, there could ever be the dreaded knock on the door!

  31. James william coupe permalink
    December 17, 2021 6:18 pm

    Not before time – this is the scandal of the Century and those at Drax with links to the CCC – they know who they are – should be fined!”

  32. December 17, 2021 8:16 pm

    MP’s wake up to a scandal? really? they would not recognise a scandal even if they caused it!

  33. Jack Broughton permalink
    December 17, 2021 8:21 pm

    We’ve all known for years that the Drax subsidies were fundamentally a fraud. However, the fraud has at least protected Drax from being destroyed by the wreckers; i.e. the madmen who now run the government asylum. Drax can be converted back to coal if common sense ever returns to the asylum.

    If wood were not treated as “renewable” the rest of Europe would get a hell of a shock!

  34. Gamecock permalink
    December 17, 2021 8:34 pm

    The other thing is, who follows up to see trees are actually planted and cared for?

    • Gamecock permalink
      December 17, 2021 8:36 pm

      “Let me burn this tree today, and I will gladly grow another tree next Tuesday.”

  35. Cliff Edge permalink
    December 17, 2021 9:16 pm

    People criticise wind power but it is predictable. Like today. Very low wind speeds so we could predict that we would have to turn to coal to prevent blackouts!!

  36. December 18, 2021 12:01 am

    Errm… I think there is some lack of understanding here. Firstly Drax and Ferrybridge had new wood pellets fed power stations built. That at Ferrybridge recently doubled in size. The coal fired station at Ferrybridge has since been blown up and is being levelled.

    Drax retains it original coal fired capacity which is separate from the wooden pellet one. Thank God they haven’t gt around to blowing that up yet, nor West Burton in Nottinghamshire and also Ratclife on Soar.

    God help us all when the virtue signalling idiots insist of closing those plus the three nuclear plants scheduled to close during this and next year.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: