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Protest against biomass will take place as huge piles of logs grow on sites such as Minster – The Isle Of Thanet News


Activist Nik Mitchell at the huge pile of Minster newspapers Photo Nik Mitchell

Members of the Thanet Green Party hold a protest as part of an international day of action against large biomass, Friday October 21.

The demonstration will be held at the north entrance to Discovery Park in Sandwich to directly protest the on-site biomass plant and to highlight the huge piles of logs piled up at the Minster, Wingham and Discovery Park sites due of the biomass plant’s turbine being out of service – causing a backlog.

The log pile at Minster is about 25 feet high and spans about half a mile. This is the responsibility of Euroforest Ltd, Kent Renewable Energy’s supplier to Discovery Park.

Log storage requires planning permission, but this is not in place for the Minster site.

Thanet Green’s councilor Becky Wing visited the site and says she was shocked by its massive size.

She said: “After a quick Google search for government advice on timber storage, I reported it to Thanet Council Planning and Licensing Services on October 11. days to do it.

Thanet Council Enforcement Officers have told Euroforest Limited that an application must be made.

A spokesperson for Thanet Council said: ‘Building permission is required for open storage of logs at Minster. Our Planning Enforcement team has been in contact with the company responsible, asking them to submit a request within a defined time frame.

“As per our application protocol, we aim to bring unauthorized developments back into the planning system. This is important to ensure consultation can take place and proposals can be properly reviewed.

Photo Nik Mitchell

The £160million biomass plant opened in 2018 and bosses at Kent Renewable Energy say it generates 27MW of renewable electricity using locally sourced wood as fuel, equivalent to power 50,000 homes and save more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 each year. The plant supplies heat and electricity to the Discovery Park, with excess exported to the local power grid.

On the company’s website, it says: “We seek to promote active carbon balancing in the region by promoting the use of coppicing techniques through our suppliers’ forest management plans.

“These plans also allow older trees to be replaced with newly planted younger trees that remove more CO2 from the atmosphere, once again creating an active carbon balance.”

He adds that wood-based biomasses all capture energy and CO2 through the process of photosynthesis as they grow, and when burned as fuel, they only release the same amount of CO2 as they captured, in the atmosphere.

Activists dispute the claim of carbon balancing and say the process releases more C02 than burning coal. Nik Mitchell, of Wildlife Conservation in Thanet, said: ‘They say the burned wood is from trees that are too small for the timber industry, diseased or rotten (grade 6 or Z), but it turns out that only 11 % of this wood is of this quality.

“Companies receive billions of pounds in environmental subsidies by cutting down primary forest and we fund that.”

Environmental activists say the problem with biomass is that it takes huge swaths of land and huge amounts of wood to provide a tiny fraction of the energy we use.

They say that burning biomass releases CO2 into the atmosphere, just like burning fossil fuels. The Biofuel Watch group says: “These emissions are ignored in the carbon accounting of governments and energy companies – yet science increasingly shows that this is a dangerous omission and that cutting down trees for energy is increasing carbon in the atmosphere precisely when we need to rapidly reduce it. have any hope of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Not all wood is sourced locally for the Sandwich plant. A freedom of information request filed by the Thanet Trees group last year shows that only 33% came from Kent in the 2019/20 financial year. Some 8,609 tonnes of wood came from Estonia.

The Thanet Trees FOI also shows that Kent Renewable Energy used 183,054 tonnes of virgin material, 28,274 tonnes of waste wood and 18,537 tonnes of sawmill residue:

Photo Nik Mitchell

Cllr Wing said she was grateful that a number of locals, Thanet Trees and the Thanet Green Party, have been closely monitoring and researching biomass power plants, including the one in Sandwich owned and operated by Kent Renewable Energy Ltd. (KRE).

She said: “These groups and individuals have long believed that energy produced from biomass plants is ‘greenwashing’ of the most despicable kind and is clearly damaging to forests in the UK and beyond.

“KRE’s website proudly claims to ‘burn locally sourced firewood to generate heat and power’ and further claims that it ‘saves 100,000 tonnes of CO2, or 1 million car flights. ‘planes to Paris’, but does not provide a breakdown of the associated CO2 produced by; felled, transported, debarked, crushed, dried and then burned, to generate this so-called renewable energy.

“How do biomass power plants make all of this work financially? The answer is that subsidies are at the heart of making this financially viable, with Drax Biomass Power Station, for example, receiving £893m in subsidies for burning forest biomass in 2021 alone. a whopping £2.44million day so effectively we the taxpayers are paying for the trees to be cut down and burned it just can’t be fair and it certainly can’t be considered eco friendly environment.

“We are often shocked and horrified by images of orangutans clinging to the last tree as corporations clear large parts of the world’s rainforests, and yet our government uses our money to do exactly the same thing, justifying it as renewable energy.”

Cllr Wing says she has real concerns about the accumulation of wood along the A299 near the Minster roundabout.

She said she was grateful that Thanet’s council acted quickly to resolve this issue, but added: “I am quite frankly amazed that anyone would think it was OK to do this without the proper planning steps in square.”

She added that there were other concerns that gates to the site are often left open, that there is no security or sign of prevention or firefighting equipment, or secure fencing. surrounding the stack.

The Green Party for Thanet says there should now be serious questions being asked of the MP for South Thanet who supports this ‘renewable energy’. and why his government is spending billions “to destroy forests and associated ecosystems.”

Thanet Green Party says the money should instead be used to renovate old properties and build new environmentally friendly Passive Houses, thereby lowering residents’ energy bills rather than boosting profits for big business.

Kent Renewable Energy’s annual report for the year ending December 2020 – the latest available – shows the company recorded an operating loss of £2,578,004 caused by a combination of factors including severe pressure on electricity prices globally resulting from the impacts of Covid-19 and a 55 day planned plant shutdown to repair the turbine. The report also states that the plant is expected to be decommissioned in 2044.

Friday’s event will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. For precise location use https://what3words.com/rotation.having.serenade

The international day of action is organized by the working group forests, climate and biomass of the Environmental Pzper group.

The aim is to raise awareness of the environmental and social impacts of burning forest biomass on an industrial scale.

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