ACSEB are a group campaigning for environmentally and socially just solutions to reduce the energy consumption of Bristol by at least 40% by 2020. This policy, originally sponsored by Bristol Friends of the Earth, was adopted by Bristol City Council on 10 November 2009.

Stop Avonmouth Palm-oil Fuelled Power-station

Our principal current campaign is to stop the proposed construction of a power station fuelled by palm oil and/or jatropha oil on the Sevalco site near Avonmouth. The Company W4B (Bristol) Ltd has an agreement with The Bristol Port Company Ltd to lease this site, once current decontamination works are completed – probably after September 2013. W4B already have planning permission to go ahead.

The scale of the oil-palm plantation industry is remarkable.
Oil palm plantations are the main cause of forest loss in Malaysia and Indonesia. A couple of years ago the Indonesian government said that they plan to increase palm oil plantations by 20 million hectares by 2020.  That is over 4/5ths of the entire area of the UK. Indonesia is already the world’s third highest emitter of GHGs.  The Avonmouth plant would need plantations twice the size of Bristol to generate less than 10% of the city’s electricity.

The ACSEB campaign has already had significant successes.
We persuaded the whole of Bristol City Council to oppose the W4B plans.  We persuaded the Secretary of State for local government, Eric Pickles, to rule that the sustainability of the fuel source IS a valid planning issue. We have opened up the debate with the Department for Energy and Climate Change about the sustainability of bioliquid fuels, and have had the matter referred to DECC’s Chief Scientific Advisor, David MacKay by Secretary of State Ed Davey “as a matter of urgency”. We have highlighted the corrupt sustainability certification for palm oil. We have the support of 5 local MPs, and MEP Sir Graham Watson. Faced with rising costs and delays, W4B will have to satisfy a large number of additional planning conditions imposed by Bristol Planning Dept. So far they have not done so.

Energy Minister John Hayes was removed from his post (sacked?)
This was shortly after a disastrous interview with John Humphrys on the Radio 4 Today Programme, that we had a hand in, on 6 March. Meanwhile ROC subsidies have been reduced (for purely commercial reasons) by the Department for Energy and Climate Change from 2 to 1.5 ROCs/kWh.

We are now campaigning to get the European Renewable Energy Directive changed, to stop subsidies for bioliquids and biofuels that emit more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels.

There is a suite of scientific evidence that shows that Biofuels, far from being green, are in reality worse for greenhouse gas production than fossil fuels. This power-station would burn 90,000 tonnes of palm oil a year, requiring plantations twice the area of Bristol, and the destruction of that same area of tropical forest. As well as the destruction of eco-systems, this means the loss of species like the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger, and the displacement and sometimes murder of local peoples, even those who have legal title to their land. Follow the links on the Take Action and Useful Contacts pages to see how you can help the campaign, and register your opposition.

You will pay for the destruction of tropical forest
As the regulations now stand, W4B will be eligible for massive subsidies paid from your electricity bill called Renewables Obligation Certificates or ROCs. In July 2012 the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) confirmed that subsidies for burning bioliquids are to be 1.5 ROCS/kWh – (For comparison, land based wind-turbines will receive only 0.9 ROCs.) This will give millions of pounds to palm-oil power-plant developers to cut forests, and increase greenhouse gas emissions, and grab more land from villagers in the tropics.

Germany and The Netherlands recently scrapped similar subsidies, so please lobby the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, your MP and MEP too – Take Action.