Dominic Lawson: Subsidies for burning biomass – better known as wood – never made sense. ‘Please could you reassure your readers,” said the charming young man from the environment department, “that we have not banned wood-burning stoves? No one will have them taken away.” His anxiety was understandable. There is a mutinous stirring in the countryside, following the strictures issued by his boss, Michael Gove. In his Clean Air Strategy, launched last week, the environment secretary indicated that various types of stove would have to be taken off the market because the amount of soot they produce sends too many of us choking into an unnecessarily early grave. It’s all very confusing. For years we have been actively encouraged by government to switch our domestic fuel supply to wood, on the grounds that it is much less damaging “to the planet” than burning fossil fuels. My family hom e, unconnected to the gas grid, is fuelled by oil brought in by small tankers. But we have woodland; and I have often been tempted by the leaflets that get posted to us, advertising the subsidies we could enjoy if we switched to a wood-burning stove. These are not just from companies flogging the things (“Not only do you get the benefit of installing a stunning wood pellet boiler, but you also earn money from it – up to £11,900 over the next seven years starting from the moment it is fitted”). The hard sells come from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, too. “Welcome to the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) payment calculator,” it cheerily told us a couple of years ago, with the additional happy news that there would be an increase of almost 70% in the domestic RHI biomass subsidy.
Times 27th May 2018 read more »