CLA seminar highlights the benefits of woodfuel

29 October 2013

Bringing together local landowners, rural businesses and interested members the event was held at East Tistead Village Hall and included a guided tour of Rotherfield Park's biomass boiler installation.

Organised by the CLA the seminar was sponsored by Energy Innovations with speakers from the Forestry Commission, Energy Innovations and Enterprise M3 LEP.

On the day Enterprise M3 LEP launched their research paper on the adoption of woodfuel and the barriers to take up in Hampshire and Surrey highlighting the myths surrounding wood fuel heating systems.

Enterprise M3 LEP representative Robert Benford said: "Our findings highlighted that there is enough wood fuel in Surrey and Hampshire to heat the Primary and Secondary schools and leisure centres three times over. However the large initial investment, lack of trust in Government policy and incentives, perceived low fuel supply as well as the shortage of trained engineers means that woodfuel is not being used to it full potential."

Forestry Commission South East Partnership and Expertise Manager Matthew Woodcock said: "The gradual decline in markets for wood products in recent decades has meant that active woodland management has declined resulting in woods which are less diverse for wildlife, more vulnerable to dramatic events and of lower timber quality. The growing use of low quality wood as a renewable fuel offers a market which can underpin woodland operations and strengthen income streams for woodland owners. The Renewable Heat Incentive provides an attractive funding opportunity to address the higher capital costs of woodheat systems. This market has the potential to be a 'game changer' in the way we consider the management of woods in lowland England as the timber grown in a typical hectare of lowland woodland could deliver the same heat as 1,000 litres of heating oil.

"Seminars such as this help communicate the opportunities available to people who have the potential to install a biomass boiler system but also those who could supply the wood for use elsewhere. The Forestry Commission offers a range of help to interested parties including advice and grants to help woodland owners consider how their woods can deliver their aspirations."

Energy Innovations Project Development Engineer James Oakley said: "We were delighted to have sponsored the CLA's recent woodfuel event where there was a very interesting selection of CLA members who showed a firm intention to seriously consider biomass heating along with support from the Government's Renewable Heat Incentive."

CLA Regional Director Robin Edwards concluded: "This seminar provided a real catalyst for discussion and debate and was beneficial for all parties involved. It is clear that communication is vital for increased up take of woodfuel and that myths surrounding wood fuel are totally unfounded. I hope meetings such as this, facilitated by the CLA, will start to bring positive changes for both the local area and throughout the UK as the benefits of woodfuel start to spread."

Additional information: www.woodheatsolutions.eu, www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk.

Forestry Commission advice and grants: English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) - Woodland Planning Grant, EWGS Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant, Technical information about woodfuel and uses.