Last year, a ship delivered into the Port of Tyne a record load of 58,000 tonnes of wood pellets.
Such pellets are compacted to fuel power stations, particularly the Drax plant in Yorkshire, converted from coal to wood at some expense.
The huge consumption of any fuel requires the continuous arrival of such loads. The Canadian forests can supply such quantities for a limited time, and the USA and Europe are also suppliers.
South Shields will be subject to loss for coal imports as the UK has reduced coal use by over 50 per cent, and the wood imports will retain employment and revenues.
The use of wood as fuel is described as ‘biomass’, adopted by the government as being a low-carbon term with a sustainable supply. It is well established, from power stations to household wood-burning stoves, but many have warned of the perils of such practices.
The BBC is running programmes on health problems arising from pollution, citing diesel engines. Virtually all large ships are diesel-powered and the import of wood leaves a trail of such pollution across the oceans. Imports have large subsidies too.
We are told that wood gives low carbon emissions. I do not agree. We are also told that the carbon dioxide recycles back into trees at a required rate to be a continuous supply source. Surely it takes years to recycle?
Any energy supply has to be affordable, clean, non-polluting, sustainable, and totally reliable. Wood pellets are none of these, I believe.