Earlier this month a BBC Panorama programme revealed a shocking truth about the scandal of Biomass. It showed how one company receives billions of pounds in green energy subsidies from UK taxpayers for cutting down environmentally-important forests.

Drax, a converted coal plant which now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity, is Britain’s biggest power station. It burns millions of tonnes of imported wood pellets – which is classed as renewable energy. If these pellets all came from by-products of the timber industry, as the spokesman claimed, this would be a worthwhile project. However, it has been revealed that much of the wood comes from primary forests in Canada, as well as ancient woodland in Eastern Europe.

Evidence of lies and deception

The company says it only uses sawdust and waste wood, but Panorama analysed satellite images, traced logging licences and used drone filming to prove its findings. The BBC’s reporter also followed a truck from a Drax mill to verify it was picking up whole logs from an area of precious forest that had taken thousands of years to develop.

The government categorises wood burning as environmentally friendly because it is classed as renewable energy. However this is a simple and no doubt deliberate miscalculation – replacement trees will take decades to grow to a stage where there carbon capture will replace that of the trees that have been felled.  We cannot afford to wait decades for these trees to grow.

The European Academies Science Advisory Council said last year that burning wood in power stations was “not effective in mitigating climate change” and may even increase the risk of dangerous climate change”.


The public have been told that converting a coal-fired power station to wood is helping reduce CO2 emissions, but we are only just beginning to find out about the increased air pollution.

Toxic fumes from Drax’s wood-chipping plants in the American deep south are endangering the health of poor and majority black communities. This is environmental racism.

Drax knows it’s a polluter but it doesn’t care. Instead it’s trying to cover up its crimes. It was fined millions for air pollution in 2020, and it’s just paid out millions more to make other toxic pollution lawsuits disappear.

Abuse of green subsidies

Last year Drax received over £2 million per day in subsidies. But investigations by both Greenpeace and the BBC have revealed that Drax’s green credentials are a scam.

It’s scandalous – the government subsidy is not only fuelling environmental racism and causing harm in America, it is also diverting money away from genuine solutions to the energy crisis. It’s time to pull the plug on Drax’s ‘green’ energy scam. Tell the government now.

Demand change

Friends of the Earth argues that the government should not provide Drax with further funding. It is an old and inefficient power station. It wastes 60% of the energy created by burning wood pellets through waste heat to the atmosphere and as cooling water to the nearby river. Its current source of wood pellets is not sustainable. The same level of funding could generate many more jobs if invested in climate solutions such as offshore or onshore wind, home insulation, or the production of green hydrogen. Instead, we argue that Drax should prepare for closure and its workers retrained so they can get new jobs.

It is outrageous that British taxpayers are funding this destruction with green subsidies that could otherwise have been used to fight the climate catastrophe through genuinely environmentally friendly projects.

To object to this loss of trees and abuse of green subsidies you can sign the Greenpeace petition here:


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