The Stop Burning Trees Coalition is a collection of groups and people taking action against the destructive biomass industry. From trade unionists, to health and climate campaigners across the North and the UK, we’re coming together to demand an end to industrial scale tree burning and pollution. It’s time to stop giving billions in subsidies to the UKs single largest carbon emitter, and use this money to support genuine climate action.
Industrial scale biomass (or tree) burning is devastating for people and the planet. The biomass industry hides its pollution under claims of being ‘carbon neutral’, based upon the idea that the trees will eventually grow back and absorb the carbon emitted from burning them. In reality, it takes 44-104 years to reabsorb the carbon emitted from burning trees. This is time we do not have.
Governments are subsidising the cutting down of trees abroad, turning them into pellets, shipping them over here to be burnt all in the name of renewable energy. Big biomass harms biodiversity, emits more carbon than coal, and is responsible for polluting communities around the world. Research has found that pellet production sites are twice as likely to be located in environmental justice communities, meaning there’s a higher than average proportion of people of colour and people living below the state poverty line.
Drax Power Station, located near Selby, is the UKs single largest carbon emitter and Europe’s fourth largest carbon emitter. Despite this, last year they received £982.5 million in renewable subsidies, which works out to about £2.6 million per day. This is money that could be used for genuine climate solutions, home insulation, heat pumps and investment in communities.
Recently, BBC Panorama and CBC Fifth Estate exposed Drax for logging primary forests in British Columbia. This followed their purchase of Pinnacle Pellets, a Canadian logging company known for logging on indigenous land. The land Drax is operating on in Canada is home to over 600 indigenous communities, with the forests deeply intertwined with their culture and heritage.
Greenpeace Unearthed investigation of Drax found that they are responsible for environmental racism in the Southern US, with their pellet production facilities emitting unsafe levels of air pollution, known for causing asthma and cancer. This followed multiple other investigations which have found Drax repeatedly violated air pollution laws around their pellet production sites, directly harming local communities' health.
Lynemouth Power Station in Northumberland is the UK’s second biggest biomass power station after Drax. Lynemouth, like Drax Power Station, burns wood pellets imported from the southeastern USA, many of them made from clearcuts of highly biodiverse and carbon-rich forests.