The UK government has handed energy companies £22bn in billpayer-backed subsidies to burn wood for electricity despite being unable to prove the industry meets sustainability standards, the government’s spending watchdog has said. The head of the National Audit Office (NAO) has called on the government to rethink how it monitors compliance with its biomass sustainability regime because the assurances do not provide confidence that the environmental requirements have been met. Last week, the government put forward plans to offer Britain’s biggest biomass generator Drax, extra subsidies to burn trees for electricity until the end of the decade. …Gareth Davies, the head of the NAO, said: “If biomass is going to play a key role in the transition to net zero, the government needs to be confident that the industry is meeting high sustainability standards. …The government’s monitoring relies on a combination industry-backed data, third-party certifications and some assurance audit reports.
Related news release by NRDC: UK watchdog issues major warning on biomass burning