Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Direct Action Against Forth Energy, Grangemouth: press reports

Activists block Grangemouth port to stop Forth Energy's "mad" biomass plans

Action Against Agrofuels Media Release
- For Immediate Use Monday 16th May

Members of Action Against Agrofuels blocked the two sole access roads to Grangemouth docks today, in protest over Forth Energy's plans to build a biomass (wood) burning power station at the docks. The company, which is co-owned by Forth Ports, plans to build four large biomass power stations across Scotland [1]. Activists blocked off traffic to the entire port and fuel tankers were at a standstill. Seven protesters were arrested.

Protesters blockaded the port from 7:45 in the morning. At the North Shore entrance, they used a 20 foot high tripod made of scaffolding poles. One of the protestors sat on top of the tripod for over seven hours before being finally removed by police. Two other protesters necklocked themselves to the tripod.

At the South Shore entrance, five protestors used lock on tubes to lock their arms together in a circle. Four of them were later arrested after being cut out by police. The protesters are being held at Falkirk Police Station and are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

The blockade meant no lorries or other traffic could enter or exit the port.

Three activists are blockading the North Shore Road roundabout with a scaffolding tripod and bicycle D-locks, and a further five are blockading the South Shore Road with re-enforced arm lock-on tubes.

Action Against Agrofuels are protesting both against the Forth Energy's plans, which threaten forests, climate and people and against the Government's biomass subsidies under which the company will receive £300 million a year for the four power stations.

Protestor Johnny Agnew from Glasgow states: "Vast renewable energy subsidies, paid through all our fuel bills, are being offered for big biomass, which causes more climate change, more deforestation and more pollution. We are effectively subsidising ecocide."

Another protestor, Kimberley Ellis from Dundee, says "We're putting our bodies in the way today because the government seems is overriding concerns of deforestation, human rights abuses and accelerated climate change associated with the biomass stations."

Alister Coutts from Aberdeen adds: "Forth Energy claim that their biomass will be sustainable, but there is nothing sustainable about creating such a vast new demand for wood. A demand on this scale will lead to the destruction of forests and other ecosystems, exacerbates climate change and is linked to the displacement of communities and indigenous peoples. In Scotland it will lead to health problems associated with local air pollution. "

Forth Energy's four planned power stations would between them consume the equivalent of two thirds of all the wood the UK produces annually. Increased demands for biomass is leading to the destruction of old growth forests including rain forests, which are then replaced by industrial tree plantations such as eucalyptus. Industrial plantations lead to the depletion and pollution of water and soils and they are linked to the displacement and evictions of communities in the South.

The world's forests help regulate weather patterns and protect us from climate change. Because they destroy forests, biomass power stations are even worse for climate change than burning coal. Far from being a `green' energy source as the Scottish Government claims, biomass power emits 150% more CO2 than coal.

Although nearly 1,000 local people in Grangemouth have objected and the local authority has voted against the plans, they will have little say in the Government's decision. Local impacts will include significant air pollution in an area with high levels of pollution already, and serious threats to marine life in a protected nature area.

Scotland has an abundance of indigenous natural resources. We need real climate solutions including energy efficiency and true renewables such as wind, solar, wave and tidal.

Notes to editors:
[1] The four power stations which will produce a total 530MW will burn a total of 5.3 million tonnes of wood a year. They will be at Rosyth, Leith, Dundee and Grangemouth. The annual UK wood production lies around 8.4 million tonnes per annum.

The four power stations would burn approximately the equivalent of 2/3 of all the wood the UK currently produces every year.
The UK's total demand for wood for pulp, paper and biomass is already altogether unsustainable as the UK relies on net imports for over 80% for its wood and wood products.
The Firth of Forth is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an SPA (Specially Protected Area), Natura 2000 and RAMSA wetland.
Friends of the Earth has shown that European biomass imports have already led to neo-colonial land grabbing in Africa.

Article and short radio interview with protestor

Read article and watch TV news

Seven arrested over biomass plant protest
Published Date: 17 May 2011
By Gareth Rose
Seven arrested over biomass plant protest

Published Date: 17 May 2011
By Gareth Rose
POLICE used angle grinders and scaffolding to clear two road blockades which blocked access to Grangemouth refinery for almost eight hours yesterday.
Seven of the protesters were due to appear in court today over their part in the protest against a planned biomass plant.

One blockade featured five protesters holding hands and lying on the South Shore Road in a circle, their arms covered by steeADVERTISEMENT

l tubes and wrapped in padding.

At the other, protester Johnny Agnew, 24, from Edinburgh, sat on top of a 20ft high metal tripod in North Shore Road from 7:45am until he was taken off by police on scaffolding at 3:30pm.

Specialist officers from Strathclyde and Tayside police forces assisted Central Scotland in making sure they were moved safely and without injury.

Forth Energy, which runs the site, said fuel tankers were held up by the protest, but would ultimately deliver as planned.

It refused to say how many tankers were planned to exit the plant for security reasons.

The protest group Action Against Agrofuels (AAA), which had 20 people at the site, argues wood burning is not an environmentally sound source of energy because of the necessary deforestation, and fossil fuels are needed to power ships delivering wood from other continents.

Forth Energy has plans for four biomass plants - in Grangemouth, Leith, Rosyth and Dundee. AAA claims the four sites would burn the equivalent of two thirds of the wood the UK currently produces each year.

Mandy Meikle, 46, from Lanarkshire, said: "We have come from all over the UK to raise awareness that biomass is not as green as some people think.

"Demand is going up and there's less and less forestation. All other renewable energies use less fossil fuels to create than they replace - biomass uses 150 per cent more."

Mr Agnew said: "We want to make as much impact as we can."

The protesters also want to put pressure on the Scottish Government to end subsidies for biomass.

Maryla Hart, 27, from Bedfordshire, said: "They will get £300 million a year in subsidies. We will keep protesting until renewable subsidies are changed."

Calum Wilson, managing director of Forth Energy, said: "The proposed Renewable Energy Plant at Grangemouth will use sustainably sourced fuel, produce low-carbon electricity and heat, and is safe.

"This plant will produce 84 per cent less carbon than current average electricity generation from the national grid."

Seven people were arrested for causing an obstruction to a public road and were expected to appear at Falkirk Sheriff Court today.

Superintendent Robbie McGregor, Falkirk area commander, said: "The protesters were given every opportunity to end their demonstration and having failed to do so were arrested for causing an obstruction."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Biomass is a low carbon, sustainable energy option and it has a role to play in contributing towards our heat and renewable electricity targets."



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Biofuels are a wide range of fuels which are in some way derived from biomass.

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