Over the last few years, a number of end users of wood and wood products, such as the Wood Panel Industries Federation (and more insidiously, parts of the Forestry Commission) have campaigned against subsidies and support for the use of biomass for the production of power (and presumably heat), both directly through the Make Wood Work campaign and indirectly through the Stop Burning Our Trees campaign.
They have now been joined by FIRA International (formerly the Furniture Industry Research Association) and the British Furniture Consortium [possibly because WPIF funding for the SBOT campaign has run out (it's been 5 months since their last press release and three and half months since their last Twitter post.].
They have lobbied Stephen McPartland MP to campaign against biomass. In a press release, he said (my comments in green0, “I have needed to rapidly understand the issues and pressures that are facing the British Furniture Industry [not that rapidly it seems, as this has been on the horizon for at least 3-4 years]… Perhaps the most significant threat to the industry at the moment is the Government’s support to energy suppliers in the form of subsidies. These subsidies cost the taxpayer over £100M in 2009/10 and the figure is rising all the time. [What about the cost of subsidies for other energy, which are far higher than this relatively small figure? His thoughts on climate change are unrecorded.]
“Unfortunately, biomass is a euphemism which actually means trees and wood. [No it isn't, although trees and biomass are included. How much PKS does the furniture industry use? How much beetle damaged wood? How much old palm biomass? etc.?] Done on a small scale and Combining Heat and Power (CHP) Biomass plants are an excellent idea… [Why are 10,000 300kW boilers 'an excellent idea', but 30 100MW power plants not, despite the increased efficiencies and greater opportunity?] Notwithstanding this dilemma, the threat to our industry is simply a by-product of this flawed policy: the increased demand is steadily pushing up the price of timber and board.”
This last comment is the real problem, despite the fact that the panel and furrniture industries has struggled for years to keep costs artificially low. Isn’t about time that bookcase form Ikea cost slightly more than £19.99? or is the probelm with crafted solid wood furntiure? Heaven forbid that this Linley table cost me more than £25,000.
FIRA chief operating officer Jonny Westbrook told letsrecycle.com: “The cost of wood has risen by 55% over the past five years. We are fundamentally against the growing of virgin trees and giving significant amounts of money simply to pay for chopping them down for burning to make electricity.” So, lets get this right, the rising cost is incidental to their fundamental opposition to biomass?