Biomass Power Generation — [Mrs Anne Main in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 20th March 2013.

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Photo of Guy Opperman Guy Opperman Conservative, Hexham 3:30 pm, 20th March 2013

Everyone here would agree that the fundamental concept of biomass is a good thing. There can be no objection by any Member of Parliament or any constituent to the fundamental principle and support for it. However, as always with Government policy, including in the three years that I have been in the House, the consequences are not always what we would wish to see. I am faced with a situation—this is the third Minister in three years whom I have addressed in relation to biomass subsidy—whereby, on the one hand, the standard person who is buying timber, whether it is a furniture maker, someone doing wood panelling, a caravan maker or any other person using timber in any way, shape or form in this country to run any kind of business whatever, buys at a price that is unsubsidised by the Government. On the other hand, energy companies that wish to purchase timber in this country for use in a biomass energy plant are subsidised to a large and significant degree by the Government.

The consequences are very clear. First, the timber price goes up. Secondly, the energy companies have a competitive price advantage, which allows them to purchase timber at a cheaper rate than all other purchasers in the country. Every single person, save for an energy company, gets a different price. That, from a Conservative coalition, I find illogical and hard to believe, given that we are meant to be a free-market-based organisation. The reality is that the subsidy is distorting the market, raising the price of timber and, I regret to say to my hon. Friend the Minister, posing a severe threat not just to the wood panel industries, but to any utiliser of wood in this country.