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Demir is concerned about timber coming from outside for the Ghent biomass power plant: "Should we cut down the Russian taiga to burn in our own backyard?"  |  News

Demir is concerned about timber coming from outside for the Ghent biomass power plant: “Should we cut down the Russian taiga to burn in our own backyard?” | News

Flemish Environment and Energy Minister Zohal Demir (N-VA) has serious questions about the flows of timber from Siberia, Chile and Canada, which together account for one and a half million tons of timber, which will be burned at the Rodenhuis bioenergy plant. in Ghent. She says she is also concerned about reports of corruption, exploitation, illegal logging, and the destruction of wildlife and animal species. “The minister sees that she has little certainty to simply agree to the timber flows, and brings the file to the level of the Flemish government,” her government says.

Max Green NV’s Rodenhuize biomass plant, which is owned by Engie, burns wood pellets to generate electricity. Flanders no longer gives government support to large-scale biomass plants, but in 2018 Rodenhuize’s support period was extended by five years.

“The only thing Demir can do about it is to monitor the flows of wood that such an installation wants to use for power generation,” the statement read. There are boot pinches. Minister Demir wonders if the wood, which will be imported from Russia, Chile and Canada, could serve a better purpose than burning it “in a proverbial stove”.

“If we protect and plant additional forests in Flanders, we will not allow unofficial cutting of the taiga in Russia to raise our back garden. There must be certainty,” says Minister Demir.

Rodenhuize converted power plant in Ghent. © Tim Dervin


The context of wood pellet production in Russia and Chile is also worrisome: reports from the International Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) speak of potential corruption, labor exploitation, illegal logging, and destruction of protected habitats and animal species.

“If it really comes down to such facts, there is not much sustainability about the flow of timber,” Minister Demir says. And for this I decided not to formally approve the file, but to bring it to the level of the Flemish government. After an external expert has assessed the sustainability of timber flows, the advisory bodies will be given the opportunity to formulate new advice and the applicant will be able to respond to the findings of that expert and those advisory bodies. Read the statement.

Engi: “Sustainability criteria are followed”

In response, co-owner Engi said it meets all imposed sustainability criteria and that it follows the regulations in force in Flanders at all times. The energy company also stresses that the wood pellets used cannot be used as industrial raw materials and do not provide additional tree cutting. In order to ensure its sustainable character, Engie Electrabel developed a system in cooperation with the Flemish government and external partners. For this we work, among other things, with a certification that is awarded by an external and independent party to correct suppliers and sustainability. We only work with partners who have such certification, so that the risks mentioned in the FSC report are avoided. “

Unlike large-scale biomass plants, smaller facilities can still receive limited support from Flanders if they meet sustainability criteria. “I have said before that these wastes or by-products such as corn waste, road scraps, wood waste, animal material, vegetable waste or potato processors, all belong to sustainable and small-scale projects. But on a large scale, Minister Demir stresses that burning trees Under the guise of “renewable energy” is very hypocritical.

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