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« Danny Alexander struggles to tell the truth | Main | Getting away with 'Müller' in the climate debate »

Greenery will destroy us

David Rose's article in the Mail on Sunday this morning is a must-read. He has been over in the USA looking at the supply chain for the new wood-fired generation facilities at the Drax power station here in the UK.

[North Carolina’s forests] are being reduced to pellets in a gargantuan pulping process at local factories, then shipped across the Atlantic from a purpose-built dock at Chesapeake Port, just across the state line in Virginia.

Environmentalists destroying the environment. Part 125.

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Reader Comments (45)

The chips are definitely down.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

We know this is just DECC/EU insanity. Drax have no choice, they either shut down the coal-fired power station as it becomes uncompetitive/unprofitable or convert to biomass and coin in the subsidies that we are forced to pay. But they are starting to squeal because of the possible carbon tax freeze.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I have had the pleasure of experiencing these clear-cuts first hand. And you just do not appreciate the scale.

If you want a feel for a WWI battlefield, that is the place. Everything goes. There is no chance for wildlife to relocate itself (just like the sudden flooding in Somerset) no thinning, no chance to react to noisy intrusions or a feeling that somewhere else is safer more productive.

Remember the "nightmare" children's cartoon produced a few years back about CAGW? Well clear-cutting like this is the ultimate greenie nightmare. Huge unstoppable machines, driven by faceless drivers in cabs, everything running before them. Watership Down.

This is why the term tree-hugger actually took off. To stop this.

Note: I have no problem with clear cutting for fast growing pine on a 5-10 year cycle (softwood for matches, tooth picks, useless Russian made IKEA pine furniture ;-) etc.) That is just harvesting.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Green zealotry has no concept of consequences. Once the Green Taliban decide something is evil they want it banned.

DDT, GM crops, Nuclear, CO2, etc.

Leaving us with their green medieval "utopia" where disease is rampant and the proles die young. But the green overlords get richer and feel good about "saving" the planet!

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Did the Drax person really say?

“We would hope if there is change of policy the government addresses the fact our investment in our renewable unit was based on that policy being in place,”

based on 'Both Drax and the government had agreed the levels of biomass subsidies for the first unit with the “clear assumption” the carbon price floor would keep rising,'

Surely you wouldn't 'Invest' that much with only an assumption in place. As pointed out clearing US forest to burn in UK power stations is insane. Who actually supports that as a source of power?

I get a nice view of Drax (and Ferrybridge) steam venting on nice sunny clear mornings on my walk up the hill to work.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Phillip Bratby, precisely. Drax were left with Hobson's choice. It is quite wicked what these people, who claim to have the well-being of the world at heart, are doing to not only people and their enterprises but to the world for which they claim to care. This is what happens when communists in all their guises are allowed near the levers of power (no pun intended) and coffers of money. Cutting down trees halfway around the world, and bringing them here to feed into furnaces to generate power, when there is an abundance of coal just up the road for this purpose, is an abomination. I hope I live to see the day when those perpetrating these malignant acts are brought to justice and severely punished.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohn in cheshire

Yes, friends of the hearth will like this a lot.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Perhaps BH, you could ask Harry Huyton if he considers it has an adverse impact on wildlife?

I bet the 'purpose-built dock at Chesapeake Port' is a damn sight bigger than than a fracking pad.

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

It is difficult to comprehend how this country, which gave the world the industrial revolution, has gradually slid into this state where virtually every decision that is made by the PsTB is the exact opposite of what a sane person would do. Growing crops such as maize, wheat, beet, grass and palm oil, to turn into electricity rather than to be food is a prime example. Clear-felling forests in one country to ship wood pellets thousands of miles to produce electricity in another country is another. Covering the UK countryside with wind turbines and solar panels is a third. Is there no sanity left in the Government and the bureaucracy to put a stop to such policy madness?

Mar 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

From the piece:

"Mr Burdett [Drax Head of Environment] admitted: ‘Our whole business case is built on subsidy, like the rest of the renewable energy industry. We are simply responding to Government policy.’"
[My bold]

Says it all, really.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

some make a split screen photo collage
old Drax with a bit of steam vs New Drax with pollution here & here & here & here etc.
Sanity vs Insanity

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

We are closing down our coal fired stations yet the Germans a building them as fast as they can. Something doesn't make sense.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterEddy

'Policy madness' is indeed correct, as Phillip Bratby states. There's been a noticeable increase in political stupidity these last 15 years or so. Policies that would once have been laughed out of town are now the new normal. As a result we as a nation have become hopelessly immune to the idiocy. Our threshold to not suffer fools - once stringent and principled, has evaporated precisely in line with the increased influence of the fools, both in the UK and EU, who now govern us.

It reminds me of the old 'Loony Left'. Back then the nutters would wave placards on the steps of Islington or Brent town hall as they protested about the rights of one-legged, cross-dressing immigrant, lesbians to have free IVF or somesuch twaddle, and the nation chuckled away at their eccentric idiocy. Today those same types of idiot have had a haircut, bought a respectable suit - and sit around the cabinet table in Downing St making £multi-billion government policy decisions.

Trace it back to Brown selling gold - but not before tipping off the whole world first. He and subsequent governments then butchered a superb pension industry. Blair took us to absurd wars, flung open the nations borders to any passing oik and his 13 children, integration and power-transfers to the EU, insane spending, borrowing billions - only then to give it away as overseas aid, HS2.

A coalition with the Dave in charge and the Lib Dems in it never stood a chance of reducing the Idiocy Deficit, either.

Then there's the cherry on top of the lot; 'tackling climate change', including our energy, renewables and decarbonisation policies that threaten the stability and competiveness of the entire nation, whilst having precisely 0.0c impact on global temperatures.

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad", it was said. And now look where we are. Welcome to the madhouse.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

What a criminal waste of trees. Drax was our most powerful coal fired power station now it produces half what it used to for no good reason.
Environmentalists have a lot to answer for.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

I always wondered where the Brit term "barking mad" originiated. Add "baying at the moon" and that about sums up the UK energy industry. One would add "drooling, knuckle dragging" but everyone knows drool freezes so their knuckles would just get stuck to the ground beside their stal-a-drool-tites.

A real shame a nation with perhaps the worlds best inventors and thinkers reduced to living in public transportation during winter.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Indonesia rejects, delays 1.3m ha of concessions due to moratorium
12 February 2014- The Indonesian government has rejected nearly 932,000 hectares (2.3 million acres) of oil palm, timber, and logging concessions due to its moratorium on new permits across millions of hectares of peatlands and rainforests, reports Mongabay-Indonesia.
According to data released by Indonesia's new REDD+ Task Force and the Ministry of Forestry, permits for an additional 409,000 hectares (1 million acres) are held up pending review.
The moratorium is the centerpiece of the Indonesian government's push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more than 80 percent of which result from deforestation and degradation of carbon-dense peatlands. The moratorium was signed after Norway pledged a billion dollars toward Indonesia's deforestation-reduction plan. Norway's payment is contingent on Indonesia's success in reducing forest loss.

The moratorium, which put some 14.5 million hectares of previously unprotected forests off-limits to conversion, was fiercely opposed by interests in the forestry sector, especially Indonesia's powerful palm oil industry. Lobbying by plantation and logging companies led to the moratorium being heavily watered down from what was originally envisioned by Norway. The moratorium includes significant carve-outs for mining and agroindustrial projects. It also exempts concessions granted prior to May 2011, when the moratorium went into effect.

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Why say environmentalists? This is a specific outcome of climate science, as used by environmentalists given access to policy. This, and such things are the contributions of orthodox climate science to society.

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:22 AM | Registered Commentershub

It's a good piece of work. I even suspect some green critics of Rose may appreciate it too.

I'm a third through William Easterly's brilliant The Tyranny Of Experts and having that context in mind this kind of crazy practice seems less surprising. Where Easterly talks about the of failures of autocratic top down technocratic solutions forced upon the developing world via dictators, I think we see here how climate policy is managing to do something similar in the so called democratic developed world.

The idea that we can trust that someone in the US will patiently harvest only the twigs and off-cuts to be fed back to a generous subsidised system across the atlantic is laughable when you consider the amounts involved. It is no interest for the UK side too look closely either.

There is much talk of greenwash by the campaigners but they only seem to apply this criticism at the high level; to correct the type of PR and ensure top down promises of money will be fed into the system. However these same campaigners seem not to care too much what happens down the line in nitty gritty reality. When real reporting is directed at the low level economics of "sustainability" there always seems to be fudging and pretense at the core.

They can't take the scrutiny.

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

I can remember when paper bags were phased out and plastic bags introduced - to save the trees!

I thought that, as I grew older, I would understand the world a little better.

Is that evidence of my sanity, if I have any?

Mar 16, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

You can't blame Drax for going down this policy route. Once bitten, twice shy. Way back, about 10 years ago, Gordon Brown introduced a policy to drive electricity prices down. It was so successful that Drax, even though it produced cheap electricity, almost went bankrupt. Unlike the other big electricity generators, it wasn't vertically integrated and couldn't stand the losses. British Energy was also taken back into Government ownership at the time as it couldn't take the losses (subsequently sold to EdF for a song). However, Drax should just say they are doing the conversion to biomass because of Government policy. They shouldn't make up figures about how much CO2 they are saving - they should leave it to DECC to make up the lies.

Mar 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

In the Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington they can't log on Federal lands because spotted owls supposedly needed old growth forests. Employment in logging was decimated. Now it turns out an invasive species of owl was the real culprit, not logging. Does that mean the government apologizes for its mistake and re-open the lands for logging? Of coarse not. Perhaps if the wood from logging was used for renewable fuel rather than framework the environmentalists would be happy to see the trees cut down.

Mar 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

This evening's Blue Peter Countryfile programme has an item about anaerobic digestion. I wonder if they will mention that the highly subsidised process, designed to get rid of food and animal waste and produce energy, is widely used to turn food and fodder crops (grass, maize, wheat and beet) into energy. It's yet another renewable energy scam, that the BBC covers up.

Mar 16, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

We are sounding like the Alarmists with this post. Please try to be a little bit more scientific. Google Earth covers every square inch of North Carolina in high resolution detail. Please provide a smidgeon of evidence that [North Carolina’s forests] are being reduced to pellets in a gargantuan pulping process at local factories. A picture with the lat/lon location should be incredibly easy to produce. SHOW ME THE DATA!

Mar 16, 2014 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterRedbone

While the Greens count the number of carbon angels on the head of a pin, China burns more coal.

"Coal consumption in China grew more than 9% in 2011, continuing its upward trend for the 12th consecutive year, according to newly released international data. China's coal use grew by 325 million tons in 2011, accounting for 87% of the 374 million ton global increase in coal use. Of the 2.9 billion tons of global coal demand growth since 2000, China accounted for 2.3 billion tons (82%). China now accounts for 47% of global coal consumption—almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.

"Robust coal demand growth in China is the result of a more than 200% increase in Chinese electric generation since 2000, fueled primarily by coal. China's coal demand growth averaged 9% per year from 2000 to 2010, more than double the global growth rate of 4% and significantly higher than global growth excluding China, which averaged only 1%."

Mar 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon B


While this is relevant, I will be neither surprised nor put out if you snip it.

Phillip Bratby, in his post at 09.48 wrote

It is difficult to comprehend how this country, which gave the world the industrial revolution, has gradually slid into this state where virtually every decision that is made by the PsTB is the exact opposite of what a sane person would do.

Phillip, take care: you are in danger of becoming a member of the TV Sofa Party. I was a member for some years, joining by the usual method -- sitting on the sofa and shouting at the television -- but I found it unsatisfying. I voted for... you know, that party which has seen through the green scams -- then joined last year and I've never looked back.

Opposing a wind turbine has been made impossible by various governments, but we opposed the Haverhill turbine and beat it by using their own green cant against the people who wrote the laws.. I'm using my elevated (!) position as a ... you know, that party -- county councillor to ask questions, to try to get people to understand that the science is poor, the advocates are greedy and that we are all being taken for a ride. It's a hard row to hoe, but it's the only row we've got. Now I'm hoping to influence our policy against turbines to make investors pause before committing money to what has been, up to now, a no-brain investment decision.

Every vote counts -- our local MP has suddenly started working like a blue-tailed fly, desperate because two of his three towns have shown signs of defecting. Yeo, just next door, has got the boot as his constituency becomes nervous as it looks west towards Haverhill. You can make a difference. All you have to do is...

(Sorry, Bish. But wasn't I well-behaved?)

Who has just let the Rayburn go out for the last time. It was made in Coalbrookdale.
Oh, yes, it's not all fun. I have distributed about three thousand leaflets and there's another lot coming up. And another....

Mar 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

"The bonfire of insanity", as it is described memorably.

Oh by the way, not that it is relevant to the topic at hand, when Australia sold its gold reserves for a song way back then when the Brits did it, the right-wing PM John Howard gleefully praised it as a 'shrewd decision'. As a one legged commie lesbian cross dresser immigrant, I was highly critical of that decision at the time, but I have now grown to fit comfortably in pinstriped suite and I now know full well that selling of the gold reserves was a loony left conspiracy which had hoodwinked Howard.

Mar 16, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

The rest of the world (well almost - the US excepted due to its shale gas bonanza) builds more and more coal based energy infractructure to meet demand and what does the UK do? It converts a power station deliberately sited directly on top of its fuel source to use an 18th century fuel shipped from over 3000 miles away.

I don't think madness is the correct term. It is green sentiment driven idiocy.

Mar 16, 2014 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

David Rose did miss one major item, the CO2 released in actually making those pellets, he didn't spell it out.
He didn't really spell out the released CO2 in all the shipping involved, or of keeping the pellets and wood powder dry due to fire risks.
Not that releasing CO2 is a problem in the first place, it is actually a good thing.

Mar 16, 2014 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterA C Osborn

All credit to David Rose, but in the You supplement to today's MOS, there is an article about three divorcees, one of whom found a new purpose in life by campaigning against fracking at Balcombe. The article is written with implicit approval with no counter information.

Mar 16, 2014 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Julian Flood:

It would be nice to think I could could spend my time on the sofa, but alas, it is not to be. As many readers here know, I spend a lot of time campaigning against the current energy madness, giving evidence at public inquiries across the country, being a member of several campaign groups, giving presentations at various fora, writing to newspapers, lobbying my MP and various Ministers etc etc. I have been called a climate change denier and a serial objector for my pains. I have made the deliberate decision not to be a member of any political party so as not to restrict my impartial evidence. We definitely have the MPs in this part of the world scared of the impact of unsaid party.

Well done re the Haverhill turbine decision. Let me know if you need any assistance when the appeal goes in!

Mar 16, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

About those creatures whose habitats are being destroyed, are they relocated to a safe haven before the trees are felled?

Mar 16, 2014 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

I'm here from the government and I'm here to bulldoze your Christmas Tree.

Mar 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I've only had a quick skim of the article and comments so my apologies if the connection between convicted criminal, Chris Huhne, and the American wood chip industry has already been made...

Mar 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhantomsby

Aside from the tortuous, torturous means of “saving the environment” (by destroying it; now it begins to make sense!), I still cannot see how they can consider this even remotely logistically viable. As discussed in an earlier thread, last year, keeping the number of ships required for transporting the chips (chip-ships?) would be economic insanity – and across the North Atlantic, in winter, when it is most needed... Hmmm.

There is also the very real probability that there is not the port facilities for handling the quantities that will be required (perhaps Teesport – then where else? The Americans have seen the need for a purpose-built dock; what do you wanna bet that Cam-moron will not have even thought of such an option); wood chips ain’t oil, so cannot just be pumped off, then pumped to Drax. They might be able to “vacuum” the chips off, onto trains – but the trains required would need to be almost continuously running, carrying FIVE times the volume of coal, and I doubt that the degree of co-ordination required on our fragmented railway network exists now, or ever will.

Mar 16, 2014 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Phantomsby. No mention of Huhne's nefarious activities on the Zilkha Biomass website. I wonder why not.

Mar 16, 2014 at 5:05 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Huhne sentenced March 11 2013, 62 days in the slammer, Chairman, Europe of Zilkha Biomass in July 2013.
I wonder what his CV says?

Mar 16, 2014 at 5:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


Keep up the good work. However, we need people to mumble mumble leaflets mumble worn out legs, mumble...


Mar 16, 2014 at 6:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Redbone says

Please provide a smidgeon of evidence that [North Carolina’s forests] are being reduced to pellets in a gargantuan pulping process at local factories.

My son writes"

"This is what they - energy industrial complex - were trying to set up in Leith. A grand bio-mass production site. The funny thing is that when Kerry and I were in South Carolina we came across a side of the highway protest (banners etc.) campaigning against a local indigenous swamp being developed to produce wood chip for the proposed Leith plant! Small world, eh?"

Mar 16, 2014 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara

JC comment.Another installment in the biomass fuel follies. The involvement of the southeast U.S. is of particular concern to me. Different states (and even cities) have vastly different policies regarding cutting down trees. In Atlanta, a lengthy process is needed to cut down a tree with trunk diameter exceeding 6″, and the answer is usually no

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

So Greens protest about trees being cut down to make wood chips to fuel a power station being converted from coal because wood chips are a "sustainable" resource. But this exercise results in more CO2 emissions than the coal fuel previously used but reducing CO2 emissions is the reason subsidies are given to make the fuel switch economic.

So the end result is the energy companies make more profit by emitting more CO2 and clearing vast areas of forest of trees which actually sequester CO2.

How many diametrically opposed ideological positions can a Green hold simultaneously? Lots it seems.

Cognitive Dissonance ain't in it!

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterGlebekinvara

I have a great deal of family in North Carolina. They deserve better than to manipulated and taken advantage of by big green.

Mar 16, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Nope, I must be some sort of blind person, uncomprehending, unable to perceive, to be able to conjure up in my mind that special formula............ the 'rationale' of the green mania - forsooth it must be some sort of wondrous aether.

I am trying to imagine, just how it is, could it be possible................ how one contorts and twists a mindset into a knot of Gordian complexity - in some sort of attempt to justify chopping down, pelleting, transportation and then the combustion of millions of trees, is ALL done..................... to prevent [far more efficient] fossilized tree - combustion?!

Does not compute..........

but then;

Forestation for tree burning - this is crackers for the sake of the crackpots, this is zealotry: this is the green CREED.

We're ****ing doomed.

Mar 17, 2014 at 1:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


I'm not sure I need a map to tell me that a million tons of wood per year requires a significant area of forest.

I would be interested to know how much energy is required to convert those trees into pellets, though. And dry them.

Mar 17, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp


"...are being reduced to pellets in a gargantuan pulping process at local factories. A picture with the lat/lon location should be incredibly easy to produce. SHOW ME THE DATA!"

Enviva has two pellet facilities in NC. One in Ahoskie, and one near Roanoke Rapids. I'm not sure how to post pictures, links, Google placemarks, etc., but the lat/long of the two facilities are:

Ahoskie, 36°16'10.14"N, 76°57'53.60"W
Northampton Co. 36°28'31.02"N, 77°38'33.60"W

Both of these facilities are in or near rural, agricultural regions so if you look on Google Earth there are lots of intermixed, cleared farm fields and woodlands. It can be difficult to differentiate areas cleared for agriculture and areas cleared for logging.

Mar 17, 2014 at 1:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

Can someone remind me?? -

David Rose's comparison of coal v bio-mass seems conservative me, unless the wood-chip figures are for a greatly reduced electricity output compared to those for coal.

Mar 17, 2014 at 6:08 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

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