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MARKET WATCH

Resistance to Wood as Fuel: Public Relations Strategies

Posted by Suz-Anne Kinney on January 6, 2014
With the persistent opposition to US pellet manufacturing facilities shipping wood pellets to the UK and EU, it is a daunting though necessary task to disseminate accurate and convincing campaigns that pose counterpoints to those arguments.

How can project developers address this opposition successfully? Clearly, the worst approach is to avoid opportunities to provide accurate information and analysis via as many different types of media as possible. Here are some basic guidelines.

Address Opposition

Anticipate the opposition, understand their arguments and gather the facts needed to address their concerns. The major reasons projects run into opposition include fears of deforestation or destruction of critical or sensitive habitats, disagreements over the carbon neutrality of wood energy and concerns about air quality. With careful planning and research, developers can be prepared, in advance, for questions that may arise. Developers should also make sure they have the best data and information available, as well as credible experts, to rebut fallacious arguments.

Over the years, Forest2Market has written extensively on these issues. Below are links and excerpts from some of those articles that can support facility efforts to get the facts about wood bioenergy in front of the media.

Deforestation

Articles that highlight reports proving deforestation is not an issue in the US:

Carbon Neutrality

Articles that highlight the benefits of wood biomass:

Air Quality

Articles that highlight the emissions profile of wood compared to other energy sources:

Assert the Positive

Take every opportunity to share positive information and analysis with the wider community. This has several benefits. Providing the other side of the story creates a balanced perspective within the community and encourages an equally vocal group of supporters. Also, when project developers flood the market with positive news, less bandwidth is available for the opposition.

In general, remember the Boy Scouts have it right: be prepared. Don’t wait until opposition arises; make a public relations plan a priority from project inception. Recruit supporters of the project within your community. Search for common ground and make concessions when possible.

Topics: pellet manufacturing, wood pellets

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