Drax's aim to be 50% biomass-fueled by 2016 could hit obstacle if European Commission formally investigates financial support provided by UK government for coal-to-biomass conversion project at Selby, Yorkshire, power plant, says Friends of the Earth

LONDON , February 25, 2014 (press release) – Following a joint complaint by Friends of the Earth and Bristol Community Energy Limited, the European Commission (EC) has confirmed that it’s investigating financial support provided by the UK Government for the electricity firm’s project to convert from coal to biomass.

In April 2013, HM Treasury issued a guarantee underpinning Drax Group plc’s £75 million loan facility with Friends Life to finance the conversion of three of the six generating units at the Drax Power Station at Selby, North Yorkshire into burning biomass. Friends of the Earth believes that the Drax guarantee is unlawful on the grounds that the UK has infringed European Union laws on state aid.

Late last week the EC finally got a response from the UK Government to its questions about the agreement. If the Commission then decides to open a formal investigation, Drax’s aim to be 50 per cent biomass fuelled by 2016 could be in jeopardy.

Friends of the Earth Bioenergy Campaigner Kenneth Richter said:

“Drax’s hunger for burning trees in its power stations is threating global forests and the climate.

“Government support for infrastructure projects is essential but only for the right sort of projects – those that help us reduce our impact on the planet and meet legally binding climate targets.

“When the Government decides to prop up the conversion of a behemoth like Drax into a forest-destroying biomass plant, it must take all the necessary steps to comply with EU law and should therefore be subject to full investigation by the European Commission.”

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