Sawmillers' body backs campaign to chop tree burning subsidy

Published:  11 January, 2012

UK: The industry body that represents the UK sawmilling and wood processing industry has joined the Stop Burning Our Trees (SBOT) campaign, urging the government to cut subsidies for burning UK wood in power stations.

David Sulman, executive director, UK Forest Products Association added his organisation’s voice to the growing number of parties demanding the government review a policy that has had significant knock-on effects for companies involved in the supply and manufacturing of wood and wood-based products.

He questioned whether the subsidy for burning trees in biomass power stations was an effective use of the country’s natural resources from both an economic and environmental point of view.

“Our trees and forests and the wood products derived from them provide us with valuable economic, social and environmental benefits. We must ensure that we maximise the delivery of these. Burning wood that is suitable for product manufacture squanders that opportunity. The message is simple; stop burning our trees.”

Mr Sulman went on to explain that his organisation was lending its backing to the SBOT campaign to send a clear message that the UK’s forest resources had to be used to the country’s best advantage - rather than be sacrificed in a misguided attempt to solve the country’s energy needs.

“Trees that would otherwise be used to make useful products for us to use are already being burnt in power stations in Great Britain, supported by generous Government subsidies; this is a scandalous situation and a complete waste of a valuable resource which should be put to better use,” he continued.

“It seems that the Government has identified biomass, including wood, as a ‘quick fix’ to its problems of a short term lack of electricity generating capacity. But it doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong in burning trees that would ordinarily be used to make useful products. This flawed thinking and the generous Government subsidies paid to power stations to burn wood must be stopped before irreparable damage is done.

“First the Government wanted to sell off our forests, now it is paying power stations to burn trees. Our trees, woods, forests and wood products have a great story to tell; not least their carbon benefits and their role in mitigating the effects of climate change. For this reason we should focus on product manufacture first, then recycling and reuse and finally, at the end of its useful service life, we can use wood for heat and power purposes.”

The UK Forest Products Association is the latest body to back the SBOT campaign, which is aiming to collect 100 000 signatures to enable a debate to be raised in the House of Commons.

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