They admitted blocking the entire port for 6 hours, bringing fuel tankers and other port traffic to a standstill. But they claim that the severity of the plans, which include burning vast quantities of wood, and the threat of the impending approval of the plans, meant they had no alternative but to protest in the way they did.
Forth Energy, a company mainly owned by Forth Ports, plan to build one of the power stations at Grangemouth docks. The others are planned for the ports of Leith, Rosyth and Dundee. All power stations would burn biomass, mainly in the form of imported wood and in quantities equivalent to two-thirds of the entire UK's wood production. This, the company admit, would make local sourcing of the wood impossible.
The activists, blockaded the port from 7.45 in the morning of 16th May. At one entrance they used a 20 foot (6 metres) high tripod made of scaffolding poles to which 3 activists attached themselves. The other entrance was made impassable by 5 people who locked themselves together using "arm tubes”. Meanwhile 12 supporters held banners and handed out leaflets to drivers and port workers explaining the reason for the blockade. Police used cutting equipment and a scaffolding construction to remove the protestors.
Kimberley Ellis, one of the activists, a renewable energy student from Dundee said: “We put our bodies in the way because the government seems to be taking no notice of the problems these power stations would create; the destruction of forests and other ecosystems, climate change impacts and the displacement of communities and indigenous peoples. Locally it will lead to health problems associated with air pollution. On top of it all, the disposing of warm waste water will kill fish and other sea and river life by causing unnatural temperature changes. I have written letters of objection, met with my MSP and spoken in front of Dundee councillors – I saw no other legal means to stop this madness. ”
“The planning process is undemocratic and we found no legal means to preventing this crime against humanity and the planet. Forth Energy’s biomass plans are far from renewable but absolute greenwash, stealing subsidies from truly renewable, local energy resources. Biomass on this scale is a major threat to biodiversity”, said Johnny Agnew from Glasgow, currently doing his masters in wildlife conservation, who held out on a tripod for 8 hours on the day of action.
Ally Coutts from Aberdeen adds: “There are so many ways that these plans are bad that I saw no alternative but to get involved. Creating such a vast new demand for wood can never be sustainable despite the energy being classed as renewable. A demand on this scale will lead to the environmental problems wherever the company decides to source the wood.“
Increased demand for biomass is leading to the destruction of old-growth forests including rain forests, which are being replaced by industrial tree plantations such as eucalyptus. Industrial plantations lead to the depletion and pollution of water and soils and they are linked to the displacement and evictions of communities in the global South.
The world’s forests help regulate weather patterns and their functions are essential for mitigating climate change. Because the creation of biomass for power stations destroys forests and causes carbon dioxide emissions, they would be a major contributor to climate change if the plans go ahead.
Action Against Agrofuels contests Forth Energy’s “bogus” figures concerning carbon savings. A research study investigating the carbon debt from wood-bioenergy found that... burning bioenergy will produce more GHGs than the combustion of fossil fuels for at least 150 years.  Smokestack emissions from biomass power stations are even higher than those of coal fired power stations – so it is of crucial importance to consider the greenhouse gases released in every step of the process. This includes displacement of old-growth forests as well as long-distance shipping, road transport, construction and disposal of ashes.
Although nearly 1,000 local people in Grangemouth have objected to the plans, backed by the local authority, who has voted against the plans, they will have little say in the Government’s decision. Local impacts will include significant air pollution in an area with high levels of pollution already, and serious threats to marine life in a protected nature area. Many studies have shown that Scotland has an abundance of natural energy sources such as wind, solar, wave and tidal energy which can be harnessed locally, along with energy efficiency measures and major improvements in public transport infrastructure, would be real solutions to climate change.,
Notes to editor: -
The four power stations which will produce a total 530MW will burn a total of 5.3 million tones of wood a year. They will be at Rosyth, Leith, Dundee and Grangemouth. The annual UK wood production lies around 8.4 million tonnes per annum.
- The four power stations would burn approximately the equivalent of 2/3 of all the wood the UK currently produces every year. - The UK’s total demand for wood for pulp, paper and biomass is already altogether unsustainable as the UK relies on net imports for over 80% for its wood and wood products.
- The Firth of Forth is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an SPA (Specially Protected Area), Natura 2000 and RAMSA wetland.
Friends of the Earth has shown that European biomass imports have already led to neo-colonial land grabbing in Africa
 The Joanneum Research study, commissioned by BirdLife International, the European Environment Bureau and Transport & Environment www.birdlife.org/eu/pdfs/Bioenergy_Joanneum_Research.pdf <http://www.birdlife.org/eu/pdfs/Bioenergy_Joanneum_Research.pdf>
 The Power of Scotland Secured http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/sites/files/possv6final.pdf
 Zero Carbon Britain – A new energy strategy http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org/