Biomass action plan for Scotland

Biomass action plan for Scotland.



UK Government

4.1 Energy policy is mainly a matter for Westminster. The current UK Energy Review will have implications for Scotland. However, the promotion of renewable energy and development of a renewable heat strategy are both devolved to the Executive.

4.2 At a UK Government level coordination of biomass policy is led by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ( DEFRA) or the Department for Trade and Industry ( DTI), either individually or jointly depending on the wider subject area. Core governmental bodies come together on the Biomass Implementation Advisory Group, (the Executive is represented on this group) whose remit is to ensure that all Departments are kept apprised of biomass developments.

4.3 Defra and DTI are currently working jointly on the development of a UK Biomass Strategy, due for publication during spring 2007. The strategy will define for the first time UK Government policies on biomass for industry, energy and transport in a single document. The aim of the strategy is to encourage the expansion of sustainable biomass production and use in the UK, in order to help address climate change and a number of other key government objectives, such as security of fuel supplies and economic competitiveness. Devolved administrations will input into the strategy. The Biomass Action Plan for Scotland is very much in line with the overall aims of the UK Strategy.


4.4 The key drivers and benefits for biomass in Scotland are summarised as follows:

Renewable energy

4.5 Ministers established the Biomass Energy Group ( BEG) in 2004, with the task of considering how biomass, especially forestry products, could make a meaningful contribution to Scotland's renewable energy mix and thus deliver significant environmental and employment benefits. The Scottish Biomass Support Scheme is a first-step to kick-start the sector to realise the opportunities of carbon benefits, job creation and rural diversification from biomass.

Climate Change

4.6 The Executive has committed to ambitious targets for Scotland's contribution to the UK's commitment to tackle climate change. The Scottish Climate Change Programme ( SCCP) sets a Scottish target to exceed the Scottish share of UK carbon savings by 1 million tonnes of carbon in 2010, totalling 2.7 MtC annually. The SCCP highlights the key role for renewable heat and biomass in helping to meet this target and expects bioenergy measures to contribute removals of 0.23MtC of carbon per year by 2020 It is currently estimated that in the residential sector alone, 80% of energy used goes towards heating and the potential to reduce emissions is significant, which will be taken forward by the Renewable Heat Strategy for Scotland.


4.7 The increased use of biofuels is considered a realistic way of contributing to the UK Government and the Scottish Executive aims of reducing emissions and reducing EU reliance on external fuel sources. The Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation ( RTFO) and the UK-wide target driving the production of biofuels are discussed in more detail in section 7.

4.8 Biofuel production currently costs more than conventional transport fuel production. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has therefore set a 20p per litre tax incentive to 2010 for biofuel production to help stimulate this market, and the development and investment in new techniques and processes by transport fuel producers and suppliers. In the longer term, costs should reduce as new sources and a wider range of material, for example lignocellulosic (woody) materials like wood and straw and the organic parts of municipal waste, become more widely available for processing into biofuel.


4.9 The Scottish Forestry Strategy and its associated implementation plans lay out the forestry sector's role in supporting the development of the bioenergy industry. This ranges from facilitating the development of an efficient and reliable wood fuel supply chain to the provision of dedicated advice through its network of wood fuel information officers. The forestry industry is committed to support the delivery of the Executive's climate change objectives by increasing wood fuel usage and maximising the rural business diversification benefits of developing the bioenergy sector.

4.10 A growing biomass industry has the potential to strengthen the economic viability of the Scottish forestry sector by providing a market for lower quality and smaller dimension material. Stimulating this market will encourage active management of neglected woodland which will bring environmental and amenity benefits, for example, through increased thinning of woodlands and encouragement of woodland regeneration.


4.11 There is a need to treat agriculture as part of wider rural development. The increasing importance of this is recognised in the new EU Rural Development Regulation. Scotland's farming industry should be a major driver in sustaining rural development, helping rural communities prosper and contributing to the growth of the rural economy. In terms of biomass, the sector is responding to the growing demand for biomass feedstock and has engaged positively with the biofuels industry. Animal by-products are already being used at the Argent plant for the production of biodiesel and agricultural businesses are working to develop biodiesel production from Oil Seed Rape. There is also significant potential to expand woody biomass production from agricultural land, both from forestry, short rotation coppice and short rotation forestry.


4.12 The amount of waste being produced should be minimised wherever possible. Thereafter, the most appropriate option in most circumstances for waste is recycling. However, there will always be residual amounts of wastes that need to be managed in other ways including waste disposal. Traditionally in Scotland this has been undertaken via landfill. Thermal treatment is an alternative treatment to landfill and is more environmentally preferable according to the waste hierarchy. Thermal treatment can apply to a number of different practices, for example, incineration with energy recovery, anaerobic digestion, pyrolysis, gasification, landfill gas capture. All waste management technologies have some impact on climate change but the land-filling of waste containing biodegradable materials is the largest single contributor.

Evaluation and Targets

4.13 There is a need to evaluate the contribution biomass makes to the wider aims of the Executive, in terms of, for example, sustainable economic development, rural diversification and tackling climate change. However the diverse range of interests covered in this Action Plan does not easily lend itself to setting useful or manageable targets. It is not the intention to purposely avoid target setting. What we can do is measure progress towards those targets already set in the various Executive policy documents which impact on the biomass sector. This information is already included in the document at the relevant section but the key targets are summarised below:

  • to generate 18% of Scotland's electricity from renewable sources by 2010, rising to 40% by 2020;
  • to exceed the Scottish share of UK carbon savings by 1 million tonnes of carbon in 2010, totalling 2.7 MtC annually;
  • to increase the percentage of transport fuel from renewable sources to 5% by 2010;
  • commitment to include targets for production of renewable heat for the period up until 2020 as part of the Renewable Heat Strategy.

4.14 The Interdepartmental Bioenergy Group will consider progress towards targets as part of its remit.


Biomass is a cross-cutting topic, as it brings together a range of policy areas, including agriculture, forestry, energy, transport, rural development, and climate change policy. The Renewables and Consents Policy Unit within the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Department has the lead role in coordinating policy across the Executive and its agencies. Relevant policy areas come together on the Executive's Interdepartmental Bioenergy Group to ensure that co-ordination of policies relating to biomass works effectively, and to monitor implementation of the Action Plan. In addition, the Executive is linked into the work of UK Government through the UK Biomass Implementation Advisory Group.

The benefits from biomass cut across a range of sectors. It is well placed to make a significant contribution to both Scottish and UK renewable targets by 2010. In addition it will help to contribute to targets in Changing Our Ways: Scotland's Climate Change Programme and the Scottish Forestry Strategy. The progress towards targets will be undertaken as part of the work of the Interdepartmental Bioenergy Group.


Lead Department



Indicator / Output

Forestry Commission Scotland

Refine figures for woodfuel availability in Scotland


Revised woodfuel resource estimate

Forestry Commission Scotland

Examine carbon benefits of alternative bioenergy feedstocks and end uses


Comparative analysis of bioenergy policy scenarios

ETLLD - Renewables

Co-ordinate policies across the Executive, and UK Government, to ensure a strategic framework exists for its development and growth and that all diverse interests are considered


Strategic framework for biomass

ETLLD - Renewables

Undertake evaluation of Plan's contribution towards wider Executive aims


An evaluation report

ETLLD -Renewables

Review Action Plan on an annual basis

December 2007

Review report

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