Comments to the draft Directive on sustainability criteria for solid and gaseous biomass…used in heating…, August 2013.
Commissioner Gunter Oettinger
Cc Head of Cabinet Michael Hager
Dear Commissioner Oettinger
The Swedish Wood-fuel Association has over the last years had some contacts with your staff concerning the expected Directive. We appreciate that there is now a draft presented and that many details now are better than what we have heard about earlier.
We have taken part of the comments that Swedish forest owners have sent to you and give our support to that. We want to add the following comments.
Most EU-counties already have a well-functioning regulation for sustainability in forestry. It is adjusted to local physical and legislative circumstances and also to the process of Forest Europa. At the same time there is a need for EU-wide sustainability criteria to facilitate biomass trade within the EU and with third countries. A Directive has to find solutions to these different aspects. We want to point out some problems that we think is not solved in a satisfactory way.
Forest Management requirements.
Article 3(7) states that primary forest biomass shall be obtained from sustainably managed forests in line with international principles and criteria about sustainable yields, biodiversity and carbon stock.
Article 3(8) states that the Commission shall establish the operational requirements, size threshold, and appropriate proof of evidence to determine which forest holdings shall be covered by paragraph (7).
To avoid undue economic burden it is stated through 2(i) and 3 that installations under 1 MW el. power or 2,5 MW heat do not need to show fulfillment of the sustainability criteria.
What are so far missing are the above mentioned requirements about forest holding size that – because of undue economic burden – shall be excluded from the requirement to show fulfillment of sustainable forest management.
The cost of showing fulfillment for instance by means of an independently certified and audited management plan is above the possible net income from forest biomass for energy for forest holdings under approximately 100 hectares. This shall be paid attention to together with the fact that an average EU forest holding is less than 10 hectares.
There is in the suggested Directive not mentioned (as earlier) any requirement for management plans but “management requirements”. That is a step forward.
We regard “management plan” as a pure tool for the owner to plan for his forest business with regard to legislation, market, business efficiency and to other intentions of the owner. The plan is a plan and no proof of what is actually performed and even less of what is achieved. There is absolutely no argument for require- ring a plan if the objective is to control what is actually happening with regard to biodiversity, carbon stock and growth of the forest. If these objectives shall be monitored and controlled the most efficient way is through national inventories and direct legislative requirements about results of operations – not about the planning of operations. In detail governmentally planed economizing with nature resources is nothing to strive for. Private and business planning has so far resulted in steadily growing forest resources in Europa.
In Sweden, about twenty years ago, we tried and got bad experience from legislative requirements for specified types of management plans. It leads to governmental responsibility for what thousands of owners are forced to do in detail. The government can in practice not take on and handle that responsibility.
Large biomass suppliers.
The members of Swedish Wood-fuel Association are mainly “large biomass suppliers”. Our 25 members stand for more than 80% of the solid wood-fuel on the open Swedish market. They are pulp industries, sawmills, forest owner associations, the state forests and independent forest operation entrepreneurs.
In the Commission Staff Working Document it is written: “The land criteria and forest management requirement may also be applied to large biomass suppliers in order to avoid risks of leakage to non-regulated sectors although this may increase administrative burden for these suppliers.” This will create an impracticable situation for both smaller forest holdings principally excluded from the requirement to show fulfillment of the sustainability criteria – and to the large biomass suppliers that the smaller primary producers deliver to. It is to observe that this constellation stand for the major total flow of energy biomass to the market.
Our conclusion is that those primary producers that will principally be excluded from requirement to show fulfillment – must be so independently of through home they deliver to end use.
In Article 4(2) it is stated that “In order to limit competition for raw material use, Member States may give preference to biomass feedstock for energy production that does not have a high economic value for other uses.”
We can see no good arguments for limiting competition between different uses of raw material. If an undesired and unintended distortion of market forces is present the correction ought to be done in the financial support scheme that causes the distortion.
Swedish Wood-fuel Association