244240 & 244241 – Biomass – 12 Jan 2009

Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how his Department plans to assess the sustainability of large-scale wood biomass energy plants of 50 megawatts and over; and if he will take into account that assessment in the potential impact on UK wood processing industries of large biomass plants purchasing their feedstock from UK wood markets.

Mr. Mike O’Brien: As part of the reforms to the renewables obligation (RO) to take effect on 1 April 2009, we are introducing a sustainability reporting requirement for all plants using biomass to generate electricity with a net capacity greater than 50kW. Generators will be required to provide information including the type and origin of the biomass used, and whether it was certified under an environmental quality assurance scheme.

The Government recognise that sustainability includes whether using particular types of biomass for electricity generation is the best use to which it can be put, and that this is a particular concern where there are other industries that already make sustainable use of all or most of the available supply. We will continue to monitor the sustainability of biomass use for electricity generation through the above information provided by generators. In addition, the Government are engaging with the European Commission process to establish sustainability criteria for biomass for heat and power.

Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change whether (a) the effect on existing wood industries and (b) the sustainability of material is taken into account in deciding whether to grant planning permission for large-scale biomass energy projects of 50 megawatts and over.

Mr. Mike O’Brien: The sourcing and purchasing of biomass for power generation is a matter for the developer. However, previous biomass generating stations consented by the Secretary of State have included conditions aimed at ensuring only sustainable biomass is used. The Government are also introducing a sustainability reporting requirement for generators using biomass to generate electricity with a net capacity greater than 50kW, to take effect from 1 April 2009, as part of the reform of the renewables obligation.

246394 – Wood – 13 Jan 2009

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will instruct the Forestry Commission to conduct a comprehensive survey of wood availability and use in the UK in 2009 in conjunction with the wood processing industry.

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Forestry Commission is already working with the wood processing industry and private sector growers to generate robust estimates of wood availability and use. This ongoing work includes a new inventory of British woodlands, to be undertaken over the next five years, in order to define how much wood is potentially available and how fast it is growing. In addition, data will be collected on both current timber harvesting and deliveries to the wood processing sector.

It will be important to ensure that the final outputs provide a sound evidence base for both policy formulation and also to help to inform future private sector investment. To achieve this, it is essential to have good quality inventory work, which takes time to complete. Nevertheless, the Forestry Commission is planning to publish details of softwood availability and use, which is the area of most immediate interest to the wood processing industry, in 2011.

249125 – Biofuels: Wood – 22 Jan 2009

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the accuracy of data on the availability and use of wood and its contribution to the sustainability of future biomass energy projects.

Huw Irranca-Davies: Estimates of the availability and use of wood have been published by the Forestry Commission over a number of years. DEFRA has not undertaken an assessment of this information. The Forestry Commission publishes on its website the details of the methodologies used to compile the figures so that those using the information can make their own assessment of its accuracy.

282272 – Renewable Energy: Manufacturing Industries- 7 July 2009

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what estimate he has made of the proportion of heat derived from renewable sources (a) generated and (b) consumed by each industrial sector in each year since 2005. [282272]

Mr. Kidney [holding answer 29 June 2009]: The Government collect statistics on renewable heat generation in total (c.f. Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) 2008, table 7.6 “renewable sources used to generate electricity and heat and for transport fuels”) but these figures are not broken down across industrial sectors. This table shows that the total amount of renewable heat generated across the UK economy was 8.48 TWh in 2007 (most recent year available), 7.51 TWh in 2006 and 6.97 TWh in 2005.

Renewable heat is also produced by combined heat and power (CHP) plants that use renewable fuels, and the data on these—on a whole-economy basis—are presented in table 6.6 of DUKES. This shows that in 2007 out of a total of 53,050 GWh of heat generated by CHP plants in the UK 992 GWh came from those using renewable fuels i.e. almost 2 per cent. A significant percentage of these plants will be within the industrial sector.

The September 2008 edition of BERR’s ‘Energy Trends’ publication had a special feature “Estimates of Heat Use in the UK” focussing on 2006. The figure for heat consumption by manufacturing industry(1) for that year was given (table 4) as 216 TWh [or 18,577 ktoe(2)], and it was noted that this did not include ‘2.3 TWh [198 ktoe] of renewable fuels (predominantly used for renewable heat)’. This would equate (assuming 100 per cent. heat use) to around 1.0 per cent. of total heat demand for this sector being met from renewable sources.

(1) The definition of manufacturing industry used did not include mining and quarrying, recycling, the collection, purification and distribution of water, and construction.

(2) Kilotonnes of oil equivalent. DUKES uses this unit; 1 tonne oil equivalent = 11.63 MWh.

286364 – Forests – 16 July 2009

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of each county was covered by ancient woodland in (a) 1988, (b) 1998 and (c) 2008. [286364]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Figures for the years requested are not held.

The original ancient woodland inventory was carried out in the mid-1980s and was based on manual measurements of maps. The percentage by county recorded at that time is shown in the following table.

The original data was transferred to a digital map basis in the mid-1990s when it was updated and it has continued to be revised as new information becomes available. The current percentage by county is shown in the following table. See full PQ for table.

Although ancient woodland cannot be recreated, areas have been added and removed from the inventory to reflect new information on the status of the woodland. The vast majority of the changes in the inventory over this period are due to such corrections and adjustments to boundaries from the digitising process, and do not represent actual change on the ground.

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