Why is it that government consultation documents are so long? It seems that 140 pages is the standard length. Added to the turgid writing styles which are routinely adopted, it makes it incredibly tiresome to try and tease out the points they are making. Very often, they can be summarised in a few choice bullet points (though sometimes little important details get hidden on pages 92 or 114).
If you want to see a difficult topic dealt with succinctly and sensitively, take a look at this discussion doucment posted on the AECB website. It’s written by two AECB stalwarts, Nick Grant and Alan Clarke, and it deals with the thorny issue of whether burning biomass is really as green as its been made out (by several lengthy government sponsored consultation documents). The answer, even more succinctly put, is No.
You could write masses more about this topic, but the argument wouldn’t get any clearer or more coherent. For they argue that growing wood (or other biomass crops) just to burn is really just another form of offsetting. And that, as wood burning releases more CO2 than mains gas (per kWh), pretending biomass is a near zero-carbon fuel is a conceit. And to subsidize wood burning, which is what the Renwable Heat Incentive proposes, is a nonsense.
The argument isn’t black and white. It makes sense to burn some biomass, as not everything woody that we grow can be used for anything other than burning, and you might just as well burn it as let it rot in the ground. But that's no reason to subsidise it. A more coherent approach would be to subsidise the use of wood or other biomass products in buildings, to lock away the carbon for as many years as possible.