- By Joe Crowley and Tim Robinson
- BBC Panorama
A company which has received billions of pounds in subsidies to promote green energy is cutting down environmentally important forests, an investigation by BBC Panorama has revealed.
Drax operates the UK’s largest power plant, burning millions of tonnes of pellets – or wood pellets – which the company imports from overseas, a practice classified as renewable energy.
A pellet is a fuel formed from cylinders made by understanding of wood residues such as shavings, sawdust and chipswhich often come from pruning residues.
The BBC revealed that some of the wood comes from old-growth forests in Canada.
The company says it only uses sawdust and wood waste.
But Panorama analyzed it satellite images, monitored logging permits and drone images test your findings.
Reporter Joe Crowley too followed the Drax sawmill truck and could confirm that it was collecting logs a whole beautiful forest area.
Environmentalist Michelle Connolly said this for Panorama the company was destroying forests which took thousands of years growing up
“It’s a real shame that British taxpayers are funding this destruction with their own money. They’re cutting down natural forests and turning them into pellets for burn them Mr get electricity It’s absolute madness,” he said.
Wood burning is considered ecological, although it is a controversial classification among environmentalists.
Drax Power Station is in the county of Yorkshire converted coal factorywhich now produces 12% of the UK’s renewable electricity.
It has already received 6 billion pounds (nearly 7 billion dollars). subsidies for green energy.
Panorama revealed that Drax had purchased logging permits to cut down two areas ecologically important forests in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
One such forest is 2.5 square kilometers and includes large areas identified as sparse rainforests.
British Columbia’s provincial government says old-growth forests are particularly important and that companies should postpone their logging.
Drax’s responsible sourcing policy says it will “avoid damage or disturbance” to primary and mature forests.
However, heThe latest satellite images show Drax cutting down the forest.
The company told Panorama that many of the trees died there and that felling would reduce the risk of forest fires.
The entire area covered by Drax’s second logging permit has already been cut.
How green is the burning wood?
Combustion of wood produces more greenhouse gases than burning coal.
Electricity is classified as renewable because new trees are planted instead of old ones and these new trees should recover the carbon emitted by burning wood pellets.
But recapturing carbon takes decades, and offsetting can only work if the pellets are made from wood from sustainable sources.
Old forests, which have never been cut before and store large amounts of carbon, they are not considered a sustainable source.
It is unlikely that replanted trees will ever sequester as much carbon as old forests.
Drax told the BBC he did not cut down the forests and said he had transferred the logging licenses to other companies.
But Panorama checked and British Columbia authorities confirmed that Drax still has permits.
Drax said he did not use records from the two sites identified by Panorama.
They said they were sent to sawmills, for the production of wood products, and that Drax only used leftover sawdust for his balls.
The company says it generally uses some logs to produce wood pellets.
He claims that only use the ones that are small, crooked or rotten.
But documents from the Canadian Forestry database show it only 11% of the logs delivered to Drax’s two mills last year were classified as the lowest quality logswhich cannot be used for wood products.
Panorama wanted to see if old forest logs felled by logging companies were transported to Drax’s Meadowbank pellet plant.
Program filmed the truck on the return trip of 193 km.
First leaving the facility, collecting entire stacks of logs from the forest cleared by the logging company, then returning to the facility to deliver them.
Drax later admitted it used logs from the forest to make pellets.
The company said these were species the logging industry didn’t want and were often burned anyway reduce the risk of forest fires.
The company also said the sites were identified by Panorama they were not rainforests because they were close to highways.
But the UN definitions of primary forests do not mention it near highways and one of the sites is 6 miles from the nearest paved road.
Panorama’s revelations come at a critical time for Drax.
The UK Government will publish a new biomass strategy later this yearwhich will establish its policy for natural fuels such as wood.
A Drax spokesman said 80% of the material in its pellets is Canadian sawmill wastewhich would have been rejected anyway.
Also said that Drax applies strict sustainability standards own pellet production and suppliers, with verification of third-party certification schemes.
“We are constantly reviewing these policies to make sure we take into account the latest scientific advances,” they added.
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