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URGENT: PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY TO STOP SUBSIDIES FOR BIOENERGY

January 4, 2012

We only have until 12 January to respond to a government consultation on the level of subsidy given to bioenergy projects such as as the biofuel power station at Portland Port, and numerous other biofuel and biomass projects throughout the UK. If the subsidies remain or are increased then there will be little we can do to stop these socially and environmnetally destructive schemes. We need to send a strong message to the government that we do not want to subsidise these projects. The action alert below is cross-posted from Biofuelwatch, and it is easier to take action on their site, where there are automated forms that will let you send emails to your MP and to DECC. Please click the link and take action today: http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/rocs-alerts/

Renewables Obligation: No to subsidies for destructive biomass and biofuel electricity

Please take part in two simultaneous email actions and tell your MP and the government that renewable energy support should go to clean, sustainable real renewables, such as sustainably sited wind, solar and tidal energy, and not to destructive biomass and bioliquid electricity.

If you have more time and can visit your MP’s surgery to discuss the government’s renewables electricity policy, this could be particularly effective.

Please note: For those living in Scotland, there is a separate Scottish consultation on the Renewables Obligation. You can respond to the Scottish consultation here.

The government believes it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing finance to renewable energy technologies through subsidies called Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) . As well as providing support for clean technologies like wind farms, ROCs also finance electricity from biomass and bioliquids, which have been shown to increase greenhouse gas emissions, cause deforestation, and worsen air quality locally.

The sourcing of biofuels and biomass from overseas has been widely implicated (directly and indirectly) in human rights abuses – including the forced eviction of people from their land and inhumane treatment of workers. The Renewables Obligation also subsidises the incineration of waste, which can be derived from fossil fuels, thus worsening air quality and discouraging recycling.

The Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change is currently consulting on the level of support to be given from April 2013 to all types of electricity classed as renewable, including from biomass and bioliquids. They propose to continue to support biomass on an unlimited scale – even more than at present as far as co-firing of biomass with coal is concerned. They also propose to support the burning of up to 400,000 tonnes of bioliquids per year (on top of the large-scale use of biofuels for transport). If all this bioliquid were palm oil – a realistic prospect given that this is by far the cheapest vegetable oil – then 110,000 hectares of new oil palm plantations would be needed.

The Renewable Obligation Scheme is financed through money taken from our fuel bills, so it is OUR MONEY that is being spent. If things stay as they are, it will cost us up to £3 billion every year by 2020 to fund this dirty, false solution at the expense of people and the planet.

Enough is enough: if the UK is to hold itself out as a world leader in providing solutions to the climate crisis and respecting human rights, it must stop spending our money on these false solutions.

Instead, it must focus on the true solutions: curbing our energy consumption by investing in home insulation schemes and in better public transport networks, and by promoting genuine and sustainable renewables such as appropriately sited wind, wave, and solar energy. Germany for example has already installed 17 GW of solar PV (250 times the UK), and is forecasted to have nearly 30 GW in 2020, whereas DECC is suggesting the UK will have up 6 GW of biomass by 2020, and only 2.6 GW of solar PV.

Please contact your MP today to ask him or her to raise the issues with Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and to vote against the proposals when they come to the House of Commons in early 2012.

It would be very helpful if you could copy any correspondence you may get back from your MP to biofuelwatch@ymail.com

Please personalise your letter to your MP if at all possible – and if you can visit your MP to talk about your concerns, that could be particularly effective. More background information on ROCs..

Dear [name],

I am writing to express my concern that through the Renewables Obligation Order, money from my fuel bill provides finance for generating electricity from biomass, bioliquids, and waste incineration, supporting companies involved in activities that are environmentally destructive and which damage human rights. If the anticipated expansion of bio-electricity materialises, annual subsidies of up to £3bn will be paid in 2020 to generating companies.

Under the current consultation on the Renewables Obligation Banding Review, DECC proposes to continue to finance biomass electricity on an unlimited scale, and also to provide finance for up to 400,000 tonnes of bioliquids to be burnt in each year in power stations, despite the evidence that biomass, bioliquids, and waste incineration are highly damaging for people and the planet. The questions in the consultation focus on economic factors alone and ignore all sustainability impacts.

In particular, I have the following concerns:

– Increased carbon dioxide emissions: unlike wind and solar, biomass and bioliquid electricity results in higher not lower carbon emissions. Emissions from burning biomass are around 50% higher than those from burning coal per unit of energy. The Committee on Climate Change has expressed concern that the large scale use of biomass electricity would hinder rather than help the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy.

– A threat to health: biomass and bioliquids produce significant levels of local air pollution affecting health in this country, as well as black carbon (soot) which accelerates polar ice melt. Per unit of energy, biomass burning produces similar levels of air pollution as coal burning – but even higher levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particulates which are linked to respiratory and heart diseases. The Environmental Audit Committee recently found that the Government is already putting thousands of UK lives at risk by not adequately addressing air quality problems, and the European Environment Agency has just reported on air quality noting with concern the increasing use of wood burning in Europe.

– A threat to food production: the great majority of biomass and bioliquids used to generate electricity will continue to be imported. The experience with transport biofuels is that land, water, and farming capacity (land and labour) is diverted from food production. Food shortages mean hunger, displacement and reduced life chances for people in the Global South.

– Human rights abuses: the production of biofuels and biomass overseas is associated with human rights abuses, land grabs, rainforest deforestation, malnutrition, soil & water pollution. Yet the sustainability criteria proposed by the UK on biomass do not even recognise the need to protect human rights.

– An inefficient source of electricity: biomass power generation is a highly inefficient process. Up to 75% of the energy available in the biomass is wasted as heat.

– Waste incineration a false solution: The energy generated by incinerating waste is a small proportion of that which would be saved by recycling and reducing the same materials, while causing emissions of a particularly large range of dangerous toxins. Under EU legislation, energy from fossil-fuel derived waste is not renewable, so including it into the Renewables Obligation may even contravene EU law. For more background information and references about the above, please see http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2011/rocs_impacts .

I would ask you to:

1. Share the concerns about Renewable Obligation Certificates for bioliquids, biomass and waste with Chris Huhne during the consultation, including the concerns about sustainability impacts having been entirely ignored in the consultation.

2. Please sign Early Day Motion 2428 about Biomass and Bioliquids for Electricity Generation.

3. Please call for a debate on the issue and a full parliamentary vote.

4. Vote against ROCs for biofuels, biomass and waste incineration if the opportunity rises.

The government should re-direct funds earmarked for bio-electricity towards curbing energy consumption, and to supporting genuinely sustainable renewable energy solutions such as appropriately sited wind, tidal and solar energy.

I look forward to your response and to seeing correspondence on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Action 2: Email the UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change (UK and non UK residents)

TO: robr@decc.gsi.gov.uk

Consultation about the Renewables Obligation Banding Review 11D/876

I am responding to the Consultation on the Renewables Obligation Banding Review. I call on DECC to remove ROCs for bioliquids, biomass and waste incineration.

The Banding Review is not fit for its purpose – One of the primary aims of the banding review is to ‘contribute to the effective delivery of wider energy and climate change goals to 2050, including Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions, decarbonising of the UK grid and energy security’. The consultation does not, however, compare the carbon emitted by different renewable technologies.
Unlike the other renewables under review, bioliquids and biomass –
* Increase carbon emissions rather than reducing them. Biomass electricity produces 50% more carbon emissions than coal. Bioliquids produce more GHG emissions than fossil fuels.
* Produce black carbon (a significant global warming agent) that adversely affects polar ice caps.
* Lead to deforestation and other ecosystem destruction releasing further carbon emissions.
* Rely on imported feedstock from land overseas which is not ‘renewable’ or provide energy security.

The scope of the Banding Review is narrow and inadequate. The review only addresses economic factors and ignores sustainability impacts when the Secretary of State is required to do so. The review specifically fails to consider the well-known issues associated with industrial scale bioenergy, i.e.:

* Human rights abuses, including land grabs.
* The effect on food security and food sovereignty
* Biodiversity loss.
* Adverse effects on soil and water health.
* Pesticide poisoning of livestock and people.
* Threats to health from local air pollution. Biomass burning produces similar levels of air pollution as coal burning, with even higher levels of nitrogen dioxide and small particulates.

The consultation is prejudicial to the outcome of the review. The Foreword by the Secretary of State makes the assumed and preferred role of biomass clear: ‘maximise deployment of the cheapest renewable technologies, such as coal-to-biomass conversions and co-firing.’
The review ignores or contradicts other findings and guidance:

* The Committee on Climate Change has expressed concern that the large scale use of biomass electricity would hinder rather than help the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy and that there is no place for it after 2020 due to concerns about high carbon emissions, low conversion efficiency and security of feedstock due to lack of global land.

* The Environmental Audit Committee recently found that the Government is not adequately addressing air quality problems, and the European Environment Agency’s 9 November 2011 report on air quality noted with concern the increasing use of wood burning in Europe.

* The consultation has been published before the UK Bioenergy Strategy report – expected by the end of 2011 – has assessed the sustainability and CO2 impacts of bioenergy.

Biomass power generation is a highly inefficient process. Up to 75% of the energy available in the biomass is wasted as heat. This is contrary to requirements in the EU Renewable Energy Directive and the draft Energy Efficiency Directive.

In a time of austerity measures and cuts to public services it is unacceptable in my view to commit up to £3b of public money per year to fund bioelectricity when this will exacerbate climate change, and deprive truly low-carbon renewable energy of needed support.

Yours faithfully,

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No ROCs for Biofuel!

October 20, 2011

After much delay, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) have launched their consultation over the future levels of subsidy being given to biofuel and biomass energy generation. The consultation, which runs from now until 12 January 2012, is looking at the amount of subsidy, in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) given to various forms of energy production.

At present the level of subsidy offered to electricity production from bioliquids from “fuel crops” is 2 ROCs per megawatt hour produced (the same level of subsidy given to off-shore wind), but this subsidy was not guaranteed for the foreseeable future (grandfathered). The consultation suggests dropping the subsidy to 1.5 ROCs until 2015, then to 1.4 ROCs, however the proposal is that these subsidies would be grandfathered, guaranteed, beyond that. You can read more here.

We will be producing a more thorough analysis of this and a guide to how to take part in the consultation soon. For now, we need to send a very clear message to DECC that subsidising industrial biofuel and biomass is dangerously unsustainable and socially and environmentally destructive.

Please join us in a protest outside DECC this Saturday, 22 October, starting at 12:00

Where:  DECC – Department of Energy & Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2AW. Nearest tube stations, Embankment & Charing Cross

When: Saturday 22nd October, 12.00 noon

More details here

Now is the time for action. If you can’t make it on Saturday, then please try to come to the next NOPE meeting, on Monday 7th November (details to follow next week) when we’ll be discussing this further.

www.nope.org.uk

Protest against subsidies for bioenergy, London, 22nd October

October 3, 2011

Where:  DECC – Department of Energy & Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW. Nearest tube stations, Embankment & Charing Cross.

When: Saturday 22nd October, 12.00 noon

Who is the protest for? – for anyone concerned about the environment and social justice.

Why: The protest coincides with a DECC public consultation on Renewable Obligation Certificates – ROCs, which are subsidies for ‘renewable electricity’. Yet instead of rewarding only true renewable energy, such as sustainable wind, tidal and solar power, a large and growing share of ROCs goes to biomass (wood) and biofuel power stations – such as the proposed biofuel power station at Portland Port. Those are paid for by all of us, through a surcharge on our fuel bills. At a time when health, education, social welfare and environmental programmes are being cut drastically, the government is planning to reward biomass and biofuel power stations with £3 billion a year!

Biomass and biofuel production causes deforestation and adversely affects the climate, food sovereignty and human rights. Nearly all of the biomass and biofuels burned in UK power stations will be imported from countries including Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana or Kenya. Burning biomass and biofuel causes air pollution causing health problems for those who live nearby. This protest will show DECC that people don’t want to subsidise bioenergy.

Corporations like Drax, one of Europe’s biggest climate change contributors, are lobbying DECC to increase their profits from burning the biosphere. If UK citizens who pay for ROCs tell DECC yes to true renewable power from wind, wave, tidal, solar & geothermal and no to bioenergy we can stop this destructive industry overnight.

Let’s cut-back on bioenergy instead of cutting libraries or rainforests.

Let’s have people power instead of plant power!

Bring a friend, your banners and placards to the Department of Environment & Climate Change on the 22nd.

Please click here to download a leaflet for the event.

NOPE on the little screen

July 27, 2011

A massive thank you to the incredible You and I Films who have produced a wonderful film documenting NOPE and the Silent Victories bike crew. Please watch, like, comment and share.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/46002486″>Portland V2</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/youandifilms”>You and I Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Bike Block Blog

July 17, 2011

The sun had just disappeared behind an ominous looking cloud and it was getting dark when a group of 28 cyclists rolled into Portland. We watched the long bright line of lights make there way along the Beach Road, and when they arrived we welcomed them with cheers and hot soup. The group, on the Silent Victories bike ride, had started out in Bristol several days before and stopped at a few places en route. The previous night they had been with the amazing eco community at Tinkers Bubble and the 38 miles they had cycled to get to us was hilly and very wet; but before they could get a good night’s rest one last challenge remained… the steep climb to the top of Portland!

Having spent the night under canvas, there was an early start the next morning for a day designed to draw maximum attention to the local campaign against the proposed biofuel power station at Portland Port. Winding their way down the hill, with music and bells ringing, the cyclists got to Victoria Square roundabout, circled round it a few times then rode up onto it and occupied the space, with the intention of staying there all day. Victoria Square was chosen as the focus for the day of action for two reasons; 1) it’s a place everyone has to pass if they are coming or going from Portland and 2) it’s sponsored by biofuel-backers Portland Port.

The roundabout quickly became an action HQ, with tents, banners and signs going up, many of them made there and then with materials donated from nearby houses and businesses. The messages ranged from concerns about local pollution to rainforest deforestation, from land-grabs to cuts of essential local services. Some were tongue-in-cheek, with the well-known dolphin hedge statue getting a makeover sign that read “Dolphins in solidarity with rainforest species”. All day vehicles going by beeped their horns, waved and gave the thumbs up to those on the roundabout. People from Portland came and went throughout the day, giving support and encouragement as well as brining food and hot drinks. The cyclists also took the opportunity to run workshops and give talks about grassroots and community action, consensus decision-making and more. By the end of the day, thousands of people had passed by, many of whom might not have know about the ongoing struggle against the biofuel plant.

Things moved from Chiswell to Eastern, with an evening event at the St Georges Centre, where people from Bristol met and talked with people from Portland, with each community facing the threat of a biofuel power station from the same company, W4B. Having made new local alliances, we were treated to a live link-up with an activist in Columbia who is working with members of the community in Las Pavas, who have lived and worked on the land for generations and are being removed at gunpoint by hired militia in order to meet growing demand for land for palm oil plantations. We were left in no doubt that whole communities are loosing everything to this unscrupulous industry and that they were resisting them as best they could. When local planners in Portland refused to take into account the source of the fuel stock for the power station, the consequences where felt in communities like Las Pavas.

It was with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment that we said goodbye to our visitors on Thursday morning, and we hope that we’ll be supporting each other in the months and years ahead as we say No Oil Palm Energy and NOPE to Industrial Biofuel!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/46002486″>Portland V2</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/youandifilms”>You and I Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Cyclists Support Campaign Against Biofuel Power Plant

June 27, 2011

On Wednesday 6th July thirty activist cyclists will roll into Portland during their hidden histories ride around the West Country. The Silent Victories tour is a ten-day trip visiting sites saved by local campaigners and will take a closer look at what makes social change by learning from past victories. During the tour the cyclists will also support current campaigns that are still being fought. The tour serves as a summer school on wheels to remind people that people power can change the course of history; it’s what brought an end to slavery, prevented the introduction of genetically modified crops in the UK and has stopped various destructive construction projects.

The students and campaigners from across Britain have put the biofuels protest in Portland at the heart of their ride because of its national significance on so many issues. One of the group, Claire, has spent the last two years living in Colombia working with human rights groups and peasant farmer organisations who have been denouncing the impact of palm oil on communities and forests there.

The group are inviting Portlanders to join them for a day of action on biofuels, starting at 11am at the Victoria Square roundabout. There will be activities throughout the day, culminating in an event at 7pm at the St George’s Centre in Reforne, which will include a live linkup with affected communities in Colombia as they talk about how people’s lives, including their own, are affected by the massive expansion of palm oil and how people are resisting it. This will be followed by discussion and the chance to send personal messages or pictures to those resisting plantations in Columbia.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH £11MILLON TO BENEFIT PORTLAND AND WEYMOUTH?

May 12, 2011

Portland has been in the news today in relation to how government cuts are affecting local communities. Plans are to cut both of Portland’s libraries, the lollipop ladies for safe crossing and a day care centre for the elderly. These cuts sit alongside all the negative environmental and social impacts of building a biofuel power station at Portland Port, which will also have a significant impact on our purse-strings, since it will be subsidised to the tune of £11million pounds per year in the form of payments through Renewable Obligations Certificates (ROCs).

We think this is shocking at a time when funding is being pulled from such vital services for local people. It is also incomprehensible that a government that wants to establish its green credentials would let this happen. Until the decision on the subsidies is made in July, we think it’s important to let the powers that be know what we could do with £11million a year to benefit Portland and Weymouth, rather than fill the coffers of a private company.

So we’re running a competition and invite you to answer the following question:

“What would you do with £11million per year to benefit Portland and Weymouth?”

Entries can be posted in the comments section below, or if you’d prefer you can email your answer to nooilpalmenergy@gmail.com

There is a prize of a 3 course meal for two people (excluding drinks) at The Blue Fish Café in Chiswell, for whichever suggestion (funny or serious) we like the best*.

Good luck!

*You can enter as many times as you like. The closing date is 12th June 2011. Answers will be judged by the NOPE Steering Committee and their decision is final. There is no alternative to the prize on offer. The winner will be notified via email and must redeem their prize within 2 months.