US activists call for ministers to give biomass plan the axe

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AN international effort has been launched to block plans for a controversial biomass plant in Leith after American environmentalists said the proposals would have a "serious impact" on forests in Florida.

In an open letter to the Scottish Government, a number of organisations including the US arm of Friends of the Earth called on ministers to throw out the plans.

Forth Energy plans to bring wood from North America to fuel plants in Leith, Dundee, Grangemouth and Rosyth.

However, American environmentalists said that along with other plants, the facilities would create "massive demand" for wood from the southeastern US.

The organisations, which include Save America's Forests and the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, also raised doubts about claims that all the wood would be from sustainable sources.

The letter states: "We recently reviewed Forth Energy's proposals for these biomass power stations, which would burn 5.3 million tonnes of biomass per year.

"Forth Energy states that nearly 90 per cent of this biomass would be imported. They expect that 75 percent of the imported biomass would be sourced from (or via) Florida. This implies that around 3.6m tonnes of biomass would be exported from Florida to Forth Energy facilities. Such massive demand will have serious impact on forests in the southeastern US, and on existing forest products industries."

The letter concludes: "Given the massive quantities of wood - most of which will be imported from our forests - that Forth Energy facilities would burn, the inefficiency of biomass electricity generation, the emerging science indicating that bioelectricity is not necessarily 'carbon neutral' or 'clean', the human health impacts of emissions, and the unreliability of forest certification schemes - we call on the Scottish Government to reject Forth Energy's proposed biomass electricity facilities."

The letter is one of the most high-profile objections to the plans, which are also being opposed by local politicians and residents.

Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, said: "Forth Energy proposes to use only sustainably sourced fuel from purpose grown and managed forestry that has been certified as sustainable by an internationally recognised third party.

"Studies conducted by SIStech at Heriott-Watt University have confirmed that the Forth Energy plants would represent less than 0.5 per cent of the global demand for biomass for electricity production."

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