Environmental campaigners claim UK’s biomass sustainability standards are a scam

The UK’s biomass sustainability standards are a “scam” said an environmental group.

The claims made by Biofuelwatch followed the decision made earlier this week by the Sustainable Biomass Parternship (SBP) to give a certification to Drax.

The firm was awarded the sustainable certification for two pellet manufacturing facilities in Mississipi and Louisiana which provide the UK with low carbon energy.

According to Biofuelwatch, the decision could have been influenced by the fact that the Chair of SBP is also the Chief Executive of Drax, Dorothy Thompson.

The group claims the “the region is home to some of the world’s most biodiverse temperate forest and aquatic ecosystems, which are being destroyed and degraded at an alarming rate.”

It also stated it is campaigning for an end to all subsidies for Drax as the group believes biomass electricity makes climate change worse, damages forests and biodiversity and pollutes local people.

Almuth Ernsting, co-director of Biofuelwatch, states: “It is hardly surprising that a sustainability certification scheme created and run by energy companies and chaired by the CEO of Drax would ensure that Drax’s own pellets are certified sustainable.

“What is shocking is the fact that the UK government allows such flawed certificates as proof that biomass meets their sustainability standards and thus merits massive public subsidies. Far from guaranteeing the sustainability of bioenergy, those standards provide nothing more than industry greenwash.”

However SBP told ELN the decision to award Drax was not influenced by the firm’s members and the SBP certification approval procedure “is both rigorous and robust”.

Chief Executive Officer Carsten Huljus added: “Independent Certification Bodies (CBs) are responsible for conducting audits of the organisations applying for SBP certification to assure compliance with the SBP standards. If the CBs are satisfied that the processes and procedures of the applicant organisations are compliant with the SBP standards, the CB will recommend certification.

“Currently, an extra level of scrutiny exists, which includes a full review of the supporting documentation by an independent Technical Committee. The Committee will then recommend, or not, approval of the certification. The SBP Board has no involvement in the certification decision process and has no opportunity to influence its outcome.”

Drax said the SBP certification proves the firm’s reflection of our ongoing commitment to the sustainable and responsible sourcing of biomass.”

A spokesperson said: “The SBP certification process is in no way influenced by the composition of the SBP Board. Rather, SBP certificates are awarded solely on the basis of lengthy and thorough audits conducted by independent Certification Bodies.”