Forests to fire power station

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The construction of Britain's first wood-burning power station will start this summer after the project won planning permission this week.

The eight-megawatt power station at Eggborough, North Yorkshire, will generate enough power for 18,000 homes. The pounds 20m scheme will be fuelled partly from commercial forests in the region, but eventually the bulk will come from fast-growing willow plantations.

Government scientists have calculated that if a quarter of Britain's farmland was given over to such "energy" woodlands, it would provide sufficient fuel continuously to generate nearly two-thirds of current electricity demand. It is regarded as an environmentally friendly form of generation because - unlike coal, oil and gas - burning wood does not increase the amount of global-warming carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere.