The inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on biomass rode roughshod over the concerns of the timber sector on mass burning of wood for energy, according to industry representatives attending.

The Group’s stated aim is to “explore all aspects of biomass use for renewable energy production, including sustainability criteria, environmental impact and its efficiency as a source of energy”.

It is also looking for clarity from the government on future biomass energy subsidy.

However, Timber Trade Federation head of external affairs David Hopkins, who attended the House of Commons meeting this week, said that Group representatives failed to acknowledge the interests of other wood users, limits on wood supply or the actual energy efficiency of centralised mass incineration of wood for power.

“The focus was almost exclusively on the benefits of biomass energy,” he said. “Not much surprise when you consider the Drax power company, which is increasing its use of biomass, provides the Group’s secretariat, and that its chairman is Nigel Adams, MP for the constituency where the Drax power station is. It even provided the corporate film for the meeting.”

The timber industry, said Mr Hopkins, was not against use of biomass-fuel in areas such as local heat generation, or burning for energy on site by timber users.

“But when timber industry representatives raised concerns over whether there was sufficient volume of fuel, they were dismissed, as were questions over the relative energy efficiency of using wood fuel for renewable heat rather than large-scale electricity generation; 80-90% compared to 30%.”

Following the meeting, the TTF, Wood Panel Industries Federation and Confor issued a joint statement. It said that government forecasts put the demand for wood fuel of biomass plants currently in planning at 80-100 million tonnes by 2030. This is eight times the UK’s 2010 harvest.

The organisations called on government to review its subsidy system for biomass energy and take into account the raw material needs of the wider UK wood industry, which had an annual turnover of £18bn and employed “several hundred thousand people”.

“It would be a great shame to see valuable, low carbon British manufacturing jobs, essential products and related supply chains get thrown on to a publicly subsidised bonfire,” said the statement.