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Drax Is Burning Virgin Forest

October 3, 2022
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood

h/t Dave Ward/Robin Guenier

The BBC have finally caught up! There have been complaints for years about this:




A company that has received billions of pounds in green energy subsidies from UK taxpayers is cutting down environmentally-important forests, a BBC Panorama investigation has found.

Drax runs Britain’s biggest power station, which burns millions of tonnes of imported wood pellets – which is classed as renewable energy.

The BBC has discovered some of the wood comes from primary forests in Canada.

The company says it only uses sawdust and waste wood.

Panorama analysed satellite images, traced logging licences and used drone filming to prove its findings. Reporter Joe Crowley also followed a truck from a Drax mill to verify it was picking up whole logs from an area of precious forest.

Ecologist Michelle Connolly told Panorama the company was destroying forests that had taken thousands of years to develop.

"It’s really a shame that British taxpayers are funding this destruction with their money. Logging natural forests and converting them into pellets to be burned for electricity, that is absolutely insane," she said.

The Drax power station in Yorkshire is a converted coal plant, which now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity.

It has already received £6bn in green energy subsidies. Burning wood is considered green, but it is controversial among environmentalists.

Panorama discovered Drax bought logging licences to cut down two areas of environmentally-important forest in British Columbia.

Drone footage shows cutdown forest

The Panorama team used drones to survey the area


One of the Drax forests is a square mile, including large areas that have been identified as rare, old-growth forest.

The provincial government of British Columbia says old-growth forests are particularly important and that companies should put off logging them.

Drax’s own responsible sourcing policy says it "will avoid damage or disturbance" to primary and old-growth forest.

However, the latest satellite pictures show Drax is now cutting down the forest.

Satellite images show forests cut down in British Columbia

Satellite images show forests cut down in British Columbia


The company told Panorama many of the trees there had died, and that logging would reduce the risk of wildfires.

The entire area covered by the second Drax logging licence has already been cut down.


Drax told the BBC it had not cut down the forests itself and said it transferred the logging licences to other companies.

But Panorama checked and the authorities in British Columbia confirmed that Drax still holds the licences.

Drax said it did not use the logs from the two sites Panorama identified. It said they were sent to timber mills – to make wood products – and that Drax only used the leftover sawdust for its pellets.

The company says it does use some logs – in general – to make wood pellets. It claims it only uses ones that are small, twisted, or rotten.

But documents on a Canadian forestry database show that only 11% of the logs delivered to the two Drax plants in the past year were classified as the lowest quality, which cannot be used for wood products.

Panorama wanted to see if logs from primary forests cut down by logging companies were being transferred to Drax’s Meadowbank pellet plant. The programme filmed a truck on a 120-mile round trip: leaving the plant, collecting piles of whole logs from a forest that had been cut down by a logging company and then returning to the plant for their delivery.

Drax later admitted that it did use logs from the forest to make wood pellets. The company said they were species the timber industry did not want, and they would often be burned anyway to reduce wildfire risks.

It is amazing how Drax have changed their story as evidence mounts against them.

There has been plenty of investigative work in the US, where Drax also operate, which has come to similar conclusions. All along though, Drax has insisted they never use prime wood. That is now proven to be a lie.

I am also pleased that the BBC has pointed out the nonsense that these trees will soon be replanted, with the carbon offset. As they note:

Primary forests, which have never been logged before and store vast quantities of carbon, are not considered a sustainable source. It is highly unlikely that replanted trees will ever hold as much carbon as the old forest.

The government however finds itself in the horns of a dilemma. Without this pretend reduction in carbon emissions, it would be nowhere near meeting its climate targets.

If it decides to stop treating biomass as renewable, it will have to drastically ramp up wind and solar instead.

Bioenergy accounts for 13% of the UK’s electricity generation, which is more than onshore wind.

  1. catweazle666 permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:04 pm

    Quos deus vult perdere, prius dementat.

    • Bertie permalink
      October 3, 2022 7:11 pm

      Non sum certus rei. Dracula non insanit, scelerata est.

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      October 3, 2022 9:07 pm

      Perfect phrase to describe gullible politicians and the green madness!

  2. Jack Broughton permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:09 pm

    I have long thought that the only proper justification for wood burning at Drax was to save it from the “Green-Destroyers” until some common sense returned. Maybe Putin was needed for that? Back to coal now maybe?

    I wonder how fast Fracking could be implemented if treated as a national priority, as it soon will be?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      October 3, 2022 8:21 pm

      It will be treated as a national priority once the law makes it a priority to prosecute XR etc.

  3. October 3, 2022 7:17 pm

    Does anybody remember Harrabin, when he almost wet himself with excitement when he visited Drax and was so excited by all those clean renewable wood chips replacing all that dirty polluting coal? Harrabin was such a gullible idiot.

    • Andrew Harding permalink
      October 3, 2022 7:30 pm

      “Harrabin was such a gullible idiot”.

      He most likely still is!

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        October 3, 2022 8:26 pm

        Idiocy, he was born with; he acquired gullibility by his own effort.

  4. Gamecock permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:18 pm

    You will always be behind the 8-ball burning trees. Yes, theoretically, the CO2 created will eventually be stored in new trees. But you first release it. You’d have to plant the trees, grow them up, then burn them to keep from adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

    Grow, then burn. Not burn, then grow.

    • Broadlands permalink
      October 3, 2022 9:14 pm

      A similar problem applies to “renewable” ethanol from corn and sugar cane to make “renewable” biofuels. You have to keep plowing, replanting, harvesting, delivering to attempt to make it carbon neutral. But it’s burned as soon as it is delivered to a gas pump. And it’s 90% fossil fuel. Don’t even grow. It’s an unnecessary added step that requires fossil fuels to get it done. Another scam.

      • Robert Christopher permalink
        October 3, 2022 10:29 pm

        It’s another variation of ‘Build Back Better’: destroy what you have, and then find there’s no plan to replace it, but if you can, and do, eventually, replace it, it won’t be as good, and will cost more to run.

    • Devoncamel permalink
      October 4, 2022 8:04 am

      That’s no way to achieve a climate target.
      There in lies the real problem.

  5. BLACK PEARL permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:28 pm

    “The company says it does use some logs – in general – to make wood pellets. It claims it only uses ones that are small, twisted, or rotten.”

    Which gullible fools ever believed that. Hah !
    So its taken all this time for the BBC to find this out
    What a load of Bull
    How much more back peddling are we going to see as the cold frosty fingers of winter approaches with ‘few logs in the wood pile’ ?

    • bobn permalink
      October 4, 2022 11:26 am

      Yes. Where have you been BBC for all these years that rational people have been shouting about the disaster that is forest cutting and burning?
      Many articles and books have pointed all this out long ago.
      Remember Michael Moore filmed a one hr documentary exposing this about 4yrs ago.
      Why didn’t and don’t you show his film BBC?
      Still i guess its better late than never that they open their eyes a little.
      Next the BBC might decide fracking will help solve the UKs self-inflicted energy crisis. I’m holding my breath.

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      October 5, 2022 11:09 pm

      Logs that are small or twisted and of no use to the timber industry could still be pulped and used to make paper, chipboard etc.
      Therefore if Drax burns these logs, and the same might apply to sawdust, it deprives other industries of them so these manufacturers have to cut down other trees. Therefore where ever Drax gets it’s wood from and however they describe it burning it leads to an increase in the number of trees that have to be felled.

  6. ThinkingScientist permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:30 pm

    Am I right in recalling that someone from Drax used to sit on the CCC?

    • ThinkingScientist permalink
      October 3, 2022 7:37 pm

      Surprisingly DeSmog answered my question! Rebecca Heaton stepped down in July 2021:

      “A senior Drax executive is stepping down from her position on the Climate Change Committee early after questions were raised over a “glaring” conflict of interest.

      Dr Rebecca Heaton will end her four and half year term on the government advisory group’s mitigation committee around four months early to take up a position at renewable energy company Ovo, the board announced today.

      In a statement, Heaton said the position had been the “privilege of my career” and that she was “immensely proud of the work we have done to raise climate ambition”.

      The 2017 appointment attracted had criticism due to Heaton’s position as head of sustainability and policy at Drax, a company that received £832 million in subsidies from the government last year for biomass generation.

      “The conflict of interest has long been glaring, but in recent years became blinding,” said Phil Macdonald of energy thinktank Ember.”

      Straight into her next revolving door role at Ovo renewable energy company. Of course! All squeaky clean and above board then, eh?

      • roger permalink
        October 3, 2022 11:11 pm

        No brown paper envelopes there then! All done in brass necked plain sight. Don’t need to hide it any more.

  7. October 3, 2022 7:37 pm

    I would imagine the contract was drawn up by the bureaucrat who did the contract for GPs to work half as much for twice as much money

  8. Mark Hodgson permalink
    October 3, 2022 7:55 pm

    Paul, JIT is on the case at Cliscep:

    The Beast of Selby

  9. Harry Passfield permalink
    October 3, 2022 8:16 pm

    When you’re getting £6B for telling porkies you’re not likely to start telling the truth and foul up a good scam.

    • October 4, 2022 8:57 am

      The same comment applies to the £3.8 billion annual income of the BBC. Drax is under fire here, but the BBC is spending a lot of its money on “investigations” with a highly political agenda.

  10. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 3, 2022 8:28 pm

    Come on, we must have seen Michael Moore’s “Planet of the Humans” or did you forger the part about bogus green fuels. As regards Drax I’m sure that someone has done the maths for the amount of fossil fuel required to get the timber to the chipper, the chipping itself, the loading of the chips cargoes and the fuel for the Atlantic crossing.
    Never mind the rail transit from discharge points to Drax itself. The whole saga of denial says more about the gullibility of the UK government and the members of Parliament than the directors and shareholders of Drax a public limited company that has thrived in the subsidies.

    • October 4, 2022 6:35 am

      You’re also missing the bit about just how hard it is to handle these pellets. They are very friable, meaning that they tend to clog conveyors etc. and the dust they release is a serious explosion hazard unless the pellets are handled under strictly controlled conditions.

      As a wider observation, this is yet another example of where environmental legislation has been corrupted because the people who drafted it and those who enforce it have no proper scientific background or appreciation of the processes they are meant to be regulating.

      Several years ago, I was unceremoniously put in my place when I thought I had government support for an oil recycling project, only for the Environment Agency to use every bureaucratic device to ensure that the project was blocked. An industry insider took pity on me and explained that the EA was an enforcement body, largely dominated by lawyers, and lacked any special insight into the processes they were meant to be overseeing. (Although it was of no benefit to me, the EA was subsequently challenged on this issue by the OSS Group, who eventually won their case under Judicial Review.)

      I guess that the same dynamics are being demonstrated here, in that the EA has been fed a specific line by Drax designed simply to enable the lawyers to tick the appropriate boxes.)

  11. October 3, 2022 8:36 pm

    Anything and everything which includes CO2 as justification should be assumed to be a scam until conclusively shown otherwise ?

  12. Martin Brumby permalink
    October 3, 2022 8:37 pm

    The BBC pointing out Drax’s GangGreen lies, (after all these years) is about as edifying as Harold Shipman complaining about the quality of food given to pensioners in care homes.

  13. Chris Davie permalink
    October 3, 2022 8:39 pm

    I wonder if this might encourage the BBC to question other sacred cows of the global warming fantasy? On second thoughts, fat chance!

    • dodgy geezer permalink
      October 4, 2022 8:22 am

      not a chance.

  14. October 3, 2022 8:45 pm

    It’s so tiring!
    We all wrote about the Drax nonsense when the conversion was announced. It was clear from the start they were cutting down virgin forests. The Green CO2 was a mathematical joke to get political points towards CO2 reduction targets in the EU.

    Except for complete financial corruption, I can imagine no excuses for the Drax stupidity.

  15. Graeme No.3 permalink
    October 3, 2022 9:07 pm

    Here is a chance for the (current UK) government to actually reduce the cost of energy by ending the subsidies for wood burning. After all that releases 32+% more CO2 than coal. And who knows, perhaps think about the costs to the public of other Green stupidities and scams.

  16. Andrew Harding permalink
    October 3, 2022 9:19 pm

    I did some research into this scandal a couple of years ago, this is what I found!

    Mature trees that remove CO2 from the atmosphere are felled in the mid-West of the USA. Twigs and leaves are removed, the stumps, leaves, twigs and roots are left to rot, producing CO2 in the process. Tree roots have about the same mass as the above-ground tree, with consequently the same CO2 addition to the atmosphere.

    The trunks and branches are pulverised, dried in kilns and reconstituted into pellets, needing even more energy usage. The pellets are then transported 1500 miles, overland in lorries, to US, eastern seaboard ports, where they are shipped across the Atlantic. They are then loaded on to more lorries, to the power stations that were built on the UK coalfields, by more sensible people!

    Saplings are planted to replace them, but the evidence of this occurrence, is hazy! There is no existence that I am aware of, that formal documentation exists as proof!

    The fact that these saplings take 35 years to mature to remove the same amount of CO2 as their predecessors is of course, not publicised!

    7.5 million tons of these pellets are burned annually in the UK to produce much less heat energy than coal or coke can produce. Comparative figures have deliberately been obscured by the ‘Green’ control freakery movement! Accurate figures were around 25% less heat energy from wood than coal, and even less for coke.

    I did find this on the internet, which seems to reflect reality, much more than the fantasies of the Left!

    “For every megawatt-hour of electricity produced, even the “cleanest” of the American biomass plants pump out nearly 50 percent more carbon dioxide than coal-burning plants, PFPI staff researcher Mary Booth, a former Environmental Working Group scientist, concluded after poring over data associated with 88 air emissions permits. The biomass plants also produce more than twice as much nitrogen oxide, soot, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic matter as coal plants”.


    A Smoke & Mirrors energy policy, UN Agendas 2021 & 2030?

  17. Coeur de Lion permalink
    October 3, 2022 10:49 pm

    I always thought Panorama was supposed to be the ne plus ultra of cutting edge investigative journalism. Now this tired old story

  18. dearieme permalink
    October 3, 2022 10:57 pm

    “Mature trees that remove CO2 from the atmosphere are felled in the mid-West of the USA.” I doubt mature trees are particularly good at CO2 extraction. Wouldn’t it be trees still growing that do it best? Also the bits of the mid-West I’ve seen have had few trees. They were long ago cleared to form farm land.

    No matter: it’s a scam. You can tell because it is associated with CO2 and the Climate Emergency.

  19. October 3, 2022 11:34 pm

    It is amazing how much damage can be done by the simple word – “DEEMED”.
    Lawyers love it as the get out word to deal with matters they do not understand.
    We, the great unwashed, being left to suffer the consequences and pay the bills.

  20. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 3, 2022 11:52 pm

    Slightly off topic: The Economist reports that ‘poor countries’ want compensation for the impact of climate change and the forthcoming COP 27 may force the issue. Brace yourselves for hearing what is thought to be fair and reasonable compensation . Apols. for the 2 typos in my previous above.

  21. Crowcatcher permalink
    October 4, 2022 6:22 am

    As I pointed out on an earlier thread, David McKay told the government this over 20 years ago as well as the folly of wind and solar – plus ca change!
    Bet the BEEB won’t be doing another exposure of all those trees felled to make way for all those “oh so wonderful” turbines in Scotland!

  22. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 4, 2022 9:14 am

    Drax response.
    It’s remarkable that every time there is a Drax investigation it is claimed that whole trees are clear felled from areas and taken straight to the pellet factory.
    The amount of wood being burned by Drax (and other plants globally) makes it seem implausible that it could be fed wholly or mostly by scraps.
    But their justification shows where the problem really is; the UN, IPCC, government net zero policy, the whole corrupt dangerous climate change industry.

  23. Robert Christopher permalink
    October 4, 2022 9:30 am

    O/T About the WEF and the Internet, AND the Climate:

  24. October 4, 2022 9:43 am

    The bottom line is that net zero can never arrive with these felling practices.

    • Coeur de Lion permalink
      October 4, 2022 9:42 pm

      Net Zero- does it include refueling American airliners and mebbe a thousand diesel powered artics arriving at ports every day? Plant a few trees! Whose carbon dioxide?

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