16 January 2013

S4M-04966 Sustainable Biomass

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Elaine Smith): The final item of business is a members’ business debate on motion S4M-04966, in the name of Rhoda Grant, on sustainable biomass. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament welcomes the Scottish Government’s stated intention that sustainable biomass should be recognised as a limited resource and that it should be used at an appropriate scale and primarily for heat and high-efficiency combined heat and power; notes that the EU renewable energy directive calls for a minimum efficiency rating of 70% for industrial applications; also notes concerns in the wood processing industry throughout Scotland and particularly in the Highlands and Islands regarding wood supply and understands that wood products provide a carbon store; looks forward to the outcome of and would welcome a widespread response to the Scottish Government’s supplementary consultation on the Renewables Obligations Banding Review, for which the deadline for views on the proposals on biomass sustainability criteria is 11 January 2013.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire and Buchan Coast) (SNP):

I, too, welcome the debate and thank Rhoda Grant for giving us the opportunity to debate this important subject.

Small-scale biomass is quite easy to support and it is sensible to make use of waste material close to the point at which it is available, be it from forestry or otherwise. It is also sensible to contemplate small-scale local coppicing of resources, if that is appropriate. However, as other members have said, importing substantial timber from halfway round the world makes absolutely no sense. It is worth looking at the effect that might derive from that large-scale delivery of timber from one part of the world to another.

The UK is likely to turn to the Philippines and Brazil, where the sources are likely to be very quick-growing cane crops. The effect of continually replanting crops in a monoculture way simply to burn them elsewhere is to deplete minerals, to reduce biological load in the soil and to reduce biodiversity dramatically in a way that is likely to be uncontrolled. By contrast, when we use local resources in a controlled and limited fashion, we do so in the context of a forestry system that is tightly regulated and requires the replanting of felled timber. That is a truly fungible approach whereby the replacement of a consumer resource is not merely possible but required.

Like other members, I welcome the withdrawal of financial support for new proposals of more than 10MW. It is important that we protect the vital role that trees, and vegetation in general, have in capturing CO2 and returning it to its constituents. We should focus on small-scale developments, as they can be something that local communities can get involved in and can benefit from, both economically and environmentally. Wherever possible, those communities should, as a minimum, be partners.

It is interesting that our timber industry opposes large-scale biomass. One might think that increased demand, which would drive up the price of timber, would benefit the industry, but the industry recognises that, as the price rises, that will drive buyers out of the market—particularly local, small-scale buyers—reducing the number of buyers and leaving a few very large-scale buyers in the market who will then control the subsequent price. In this particular case, increasing demand does not necessarily benefit the seller.

We do not have legislative competence in the area of energy; we have merely the administrative powers that have been devolved to us. I am not quite certain where this sits, but one area in which difficulty arises in exploiting the heat that is part of small-scale local biomass concerns freestanding heritable rights of access, which, south of the border, are known as wayleaves. It would be interesting to hear what the minister has to say on that subject. I recall visiting a plant in Dundee that had excess heat that it wanted to deliver to housing that was only a few hundred metres away, but it could not get the necessary protected permissions for the pipes to do so.

I very much welcome the debate, agree with the sentiments expressed and approve of the fact that we will not be burning precious resource in major plants—small scale and local is the way to go.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP