Dundee Courier, Saturday 30 October 2010
A Fife timber firm has spoken out in support of Europe-wide protests against biomass plant subsidies.
Wood panel plants - including Norbord factories in Inverness and Stirlingshire - closed down for an hour yesterday to make a stand against the subsidies, which they say are threatening their livelihoods by pushing up the price of raw materials.
Although rising prices could in the short term benefit Markinch-based James Donaldson and Sons Ltd, because raw materials such as wood shavings are among the by-products of their timber business, chairman Neil Donaldson said the rising number of subsidised biomass plants was a cause for concern.
"We support any actions that Norbord are taking today in the interest of protecting the very special raw material that we have," he said.
"If every biomass facility was granted planning permission there would not be enough timber in the UK tomeet that demand.
"There is a supply and demand issue and the price is going through the roof for shavings. That's why Norbord are so unhappy about it - it's their core product."
While acknowledging that biomass was potentially a useful source of energy for the future, Mr Donaldson said it was not carbon neutral because burning biomass released carbon into the atmosphere and there were more enviornmentally friendly ways to use timber by-products.
"It is a concern when timber is used as a potential power source, when timber is absolutely one of the best living materials for soaking up carbon from the atmosphere," he said.
"We in the timber industry would much rather the by-products generated as a result of the process were utilised in a more sustainable way.
"It's not good news if we are producing something that is going to be burned."