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Biomass

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how his Department plans to assess the sustainability of large-scale wood biomass energy plants of 50 megawatts and over; and if he will take into account that assessment in the potential impact on UK wood processing industries of large biomass plants purchasing their feedstock from UK wood markets. (244240)

As part of the reforms to the renewables obligation (RO) to take effect on 1 April 2009, we are introducing a sustainability reporting requirement for all plants using biomass to generate electricity with a net capacity greater than 50kW. Generators will be required to provide information including the type and origin of the biomass used, and whether it was certified under an environmental quality assurance scheme.

The Government recognise that sustainability includes whether using particular types of biomass for electricity generation is the best use to which it can be put, and that this is a particular concern where there are other industries that already make sustainable use of all or most of the available supply. We will continue to monitor the sustainability of biomass use for electricity generation through the above information provided by generators. In addition, the Government are engaging with the European Commission process to establish sustainability criteria for biomass for heat and power.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether (a) the effect on existing wood industries and (b) the sustainability of material is taken into account in deciding whether to grant planning permission for large-scale biomass energy projects of 50 megawatts and over. (244241)

The sourcing and purchasing of biomass for power generation is a matter for the developer. However, previous biomass generating stations consented by the Secretary of State have included conditions aimed at ensuring only sustainable biomass is used. The Government are also introducing a sustainability reporting requirement for generators using biomass to generate electricity with a net capacity greater than 50kW, to take effect from 1 April 2009, as part of the reform of the renewables obligation.