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The Renewable Energy Association, whose members include both large and small biomass developers and suppliers, has taken the unusual step of publishing a private letter sent last month to the heads of three green campaign groups, appealing to them to review their strategy of “promoting … misinformation” and “deliberately facilitating confusion” among the general public.

The letter, sent by Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association requests a meeting to initiate “positive dialogue” between industry and campaigners, rather than propaganda tactics.   A date is yet to be agreed..

Instead, in a letter to The Times newspaper published yesterday, the heads of Greenpeace, RSPB and Friends of the Earth joined with the wood panel industrial lobby to claim extra demand for wood was impacting both wood products industries and environmental sustainability.

Industry leaders have poured cold water on the claims. Through new Government Sustainability Criteria and extra revenues for forest owners, bioenergy is delivering increases in active forestry management, wood supply and major carbon emissions reductions around the world.

Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, added:

“I’ve fought battles alongside these NGOs for 18 years to promote renewable energy and combat climate change.  I’m extremely disappointed to see organisations of this stature peddling pseudo-science that they must know doesn’t represent the real world of solid biomass supply.

 “The UK’s energy consumers need to know the facts. They are facing rising bills, a need to decarbonise the economy and an impending shortfall in electricity generating capacity . We only have a few options that can provide cost-competitive, baseload renewable power, and are rapidly deployable. It’s time these NGOs told the truth and started to live in the real world.”





For more information:

Jessica Lennard, Back Biomass campaign
Tel: +44 (0)20 3047 2204
Mob: +44 (0)778 602 5652

Paul Thompson, Renewable Energy Association
Tel:  +44 (0)20 7925 3580
Mob: +44 (0)7980 264580


Notes to Editor:

1.       The letter sent by Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, requests a meeting with RSPB, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. It can be found at:

 2.       Letter to the Times can be found at:

 3.       The British Government’s Bioenergy Strategy estimates that decarbonisation of the economy without the use of bioenergy would cost the UK £44 billion. The Bioenergy Strategy can be found here:

 4.       To qualify for Government subsidy, biomass energy must demonstrate a lifecycle (i.e. whole supply chain) reduction in emissions of at least 60% compared to the emissions of the EU fossil fuel grid average. The Government’s Sustainability Criteria, expected to become legally binding in April 2014, will require this reduction in addition to protecting sensitive land. More information about the sustainability of biomass can be found here:

 5.       Biomass in the UK is not a ‘price maker’ in the global wood prices market, but a ‘price taker’ – i.e. it does not influence the price of wood in any significant way. Wood prices have been in decline for a number of years and wood supply in the UK has risen. A short factsheet on wood prices can be found here:

 6.       NGOs and the wood panels industry both draw on the report “Dirtier than coal,” by Professor Tim Searchinger, to support their claims on sustainability. The ‘evidence’ used by Professor Searchinger is in fact based entirely on one theoretical scenario involving using all of the wood products in a forest for bioenergy, which does not reflect real-world practice. The original peer-reviewed research (from which the scenario was extracted) undertaken by experts for the UK Department of Energy notes this fact, and the Department was so concerned by the misuse of its data that it felt compelled to issue several clarifications and supplementary notes to set the record straight. The supplementary note can be found here:

 7.       The Renewable Energy Association’s Back Biomass campaign is an industry led and government supported initiative launched in summer 2011 to urge the Government to ‘Back Biomass’ power as a crucial part of a secure, affordable, low carbon future for the UK. We believe that power and CHP from sustainable biomass offers proven, practical, secure low carbon energy as part of a balanced energy mix. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @BackBiomass

 8.       The REA was established in 2001, as a not-for-profit trade association, to represent British renewable energy producers and promote the use of renewable energy in the UK. The REA endeavours to achieve the right regulatory framework for renewables to deliver an increasing contribution to the UK’s electricity, heat and transport needs. For more information, please visit