Earlier this week the UK Government published its response to the recent consultation on adjustments to the sustainability and reporting provisions for biomass . Copies of the original consultation document and Government Response can be can be viewed on the DECC website at:https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/biomass-sustainability
Summary of UK Government response to the consultation on adjustments to the sustainability and reporting provisions for biomass
After taking into account the consultation responses, the Government has decided:
· To change the definition of ‘saw logs’ currently set out in RO legislation (which is based on tree age) to use the definition of a saw log as set out in local sawmill specifications. Where local specifications are not available, suppliers should use the UK specifications set out in Table 1 of the Forestry Commission Field Book 9 (second edition). This provision would also be introduced in the Contracts for Difference (CfD).
· To change the current requirement in the RO to report on specific ‘tree species’ to a requirement to report on the proportion of ‘hardwood’ and ‘softwood’. There will be an additional requirement to report on whether any of the wood used was likely to have come from threatened or protected species. This provision would also be introduced in the CfDs.
· To “deem sustainable” arboricultural residues under the Timber Standard for the RO and RHI, and in the forthcoming CfDs
· Not to exempt wood from diseased trees from the Timber Standard.
· To “deem sustainable” under the Timber Standard, trees removed from non-forest land for ecological reasons.
· Not to exempt wind blow from the Timber Standard at this stage but to keep the evidence under review.
· Not to exempt non-waste residues from sawmills from the Timber Standard.
· To add ‘highly biodiverse grasslands’ to the list of protected land types in the land criteria for non-wood solid and gaseous biomass under the RO, RHI and in the CfDs.
· To implement the GHG annual averaging methodology under the RO (and in the CfDs) as set out in the consultation document.
Timing for implementation
In so far as they relate to the RO, the changes to the biomass reporting and sustainability criteria set out in the Government Response will be included in a consolidated Renewables Obligation Order to be laid in Parliament in early 2015 and due to come into force (subject to Parliamentary approval) on 1 April 2015.
We intend that the decisions relating to the RHI will follow a similar legislative timetable and are intended to come into force in spring 2015. It is our intention that the changes set out in the consultation response will also apply to forthcoming Investment Contracts and generic CfD awarded under the Electricity Market Reform.