Power giant Drax’s chief executive, Dorothy Thompson, reckons burning wood for light and heat is as old as time – and it’s hardly fracking, so why all the protests?
The Drax power station in North Yorkshire is the UK’s biggest single emitter of carbon dioxide, but Thompson’s plan to turn its fuel from coal to biomass – wood-based pellets – has made environmentalists see red.
Drax is the largest coal-fired power station in Western Europe and produces about 7 per cent of UK electrical consumption – enough for six cities the size of Leeds.
But campaigners argue that it is a myth that biomass is a low-carbon process and its large-scale use for power generation is sustainable, claiming it leads to the destruction of forests.
Drax’s annual meeting was targeted in April by protesters chanting ‘Drax, Drax, what do you say? How many trees have you killed today?’and carrying ‘Drax the Destroyer!’ banners.
Thompson remains unfazed, proudly recalling the moment a few months ago when, in the Starship Enterprise-like control room of the power station, her ‘Project Phoenix’ staff flicked the switch that made one unit of the station run solely on biomass for the first time.