2. April Protests Roundup
On 9th April 40 campaigners gathered to award wooden spoons of shame in ascending sizes to the Biggest Biomass Baddies, the winners of our Biomess Awards. The ceremony took place at a European Biomass industry conference Gala Dinner, where the industry was giving itself awards for â€œsustainabilityâ€. Rhythms of Resistance kicked off the protest in highly audible samba fashion. At the last minute, conference organisers ran scared of our protest and moved their Gala Dinner to a different venue. Luckily, we found out just in time and made sure their night was not a quiet one!
The biggest wooden spoon was awarded to DECC for their disregard for scientific evidence on the impacts of big biomass and for kick-starting the industry with offers of lucrative subsidies for this dangerous false solution. In second place were Drax, arch-greenwashers and lobbyist for the biomass industry. Drax power station now burns more coal and more biomass than any other plant in the UK. The third biggest wooden spoon went to the UK Green Investment Bank who have invested more in biomass to date than in any other technology. They claim that 91% of their carbon savings for their first reported year came from a loan to Drax to convert to biomass, which actually saved them from having to close altogether.
Runners-up were the Renewable Energy Association with their Back Biomass campaign; Enviva, a major supplier of wood pellets to Drax and Eon and who have been shown to be sourcing wood from the clear-cutting old growth wetland forest in the southern US; and finally the Canadian Wood Pellet Association, who have been lobbying heavily for EU/UK subsidies for pellets sourced from clearcut oldgrowth forests.
See full press release and photos here.
On 23rd April, more protesters gathered outside the Drax AGM in the heart of the city of London. Investors going in were offered a Warning to Investors and a leaflet explaining why big biomass is a false solution.
Three protesters attended the AGM as proxy voters and asked questions about biomass sourcing, Drax's refusal to acknowledge the science around carbon impacts of burning biomass and the changing political climate around biomass subsidies. At the end of the questions they disrupted the meeting by reading a prepared statement and asking the Board to accept their large wooden spoon of shame from the Biomess Awards. They were ejected from the meeting.
Outside, protesters were shouting slogans, holding banners, leafleting and interacting with passers-by. The disrupters later reported what had happened inside the AGM to the demonstration outside, and this was followed by speakers from the London Mining Network on the implications of the extended coal burning life of Drax and Econexus air quality implications of burning biomass. The demo ended with a rousing version of I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK adapted especially in dishonour of Drax.
The protest was mentioned in the Guardian and the Financial Times as well as in articles in the Ecologist and Red Pepper.
Bristol's Big Bike Bash against Big Biomass at Avonmouth
On Saturday 12th April Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels organised a Big Bike Bash to protest at plans for Biofuel and Biomass power stations at nearby Avonmouth. More than 100 Bristol residents with their bikes and mostly wearing red trousers gathered at the Lloyds amphitheatre in the centre of Bristol. Molly Scott Cato, South West Green Party candidate for the European Parliament explained why big biomass is bad and wholly inappropriate for a city that will be European Green Capital in 2015. Pictures can be found here.
Bristol's Independent elected Mayor George Ferguson, who wears red trousers, came out strongly against the planned Helius Biomass power station at a Mayor's question-time in late March. He has also written a strongly argued letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, objecting to a subsidy offered under the UK Guarantee Scheme where public money is pledged to guarantee private loans to private developers of key infrastructure projects. Bristol MPs, urged by their constituents, have also objected. Protesters called on the Mayor to be resolute and unequivocal in representing Bristol's complete opposition to these power stations.
The Big Bike Bash then proceeded via RBS â€“ the only potential investor other than the Green Investment Bank and the Treasury mentioned in Helius' recent financial statement â€“ to Avonmouth where they met local residents in Avonmouth Park.
The Big Bike Bash got coverage on BBC 'Points West' and in the Bristol Evening Post. The campaign continues, meeting every two weeks on Monday evenings to plan the campaign. A Campaign Strategy meeting will take place at 2pm on Saturday 24th May, venue tbc.
The Avon Coalition Against Big Biofuels is also holding a public meeting at Shirehampton, near Avonmouth, on Monday 9th June and a Big Green Week event titled 'Whatâ€™s wrong with Big Biomass at Avonmouth' on Friday 20th June 7-8:00pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.