LETTER: System that makes it cheaper to pollute than to conserve

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The Independent Online
From Mr Adam Giffard

Sir: While endorsing Hamish McRae's article "We're crying too much over spilt oil" (23 February) on the profligate use of fossil fuels leading to climate change, it is wrong to leave biomass fuels out of the equation. If fossil fuels were made even slightly more expensive by reformed taxation, as suggested by Mr McRae, wood fuel, which removes carbon from the atmosphere while growing, would become competitive in the marketplace.

As well as conventional burning for space heating, the technology for clean gasification of wood is well-developed for electricity production. Planting grants are available for establishment of short-rotation coppice on set-aside land, but the "oil equivalent" price now obtainable for wood chips at the farm gate is not attractive.

The current non-fossil-fuel obligation, which is the UK's modest start in this direction, is small and tightly controlled from a highly bureaucratic centre, discouraging many of those involved in hydro-power and biomass energy.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Giffard

Barnstable, Devon