Recognised sources of biomass include forest and woodland products, short rotation coppice (SRC), short rotation forestry (SRF), forest residues and arboricultural arisings.
Grants are available to establish these short rotation coppice crops and to support producer groups.
Growing short rotation coppice
SRC is an energy crop which usually consists of densely planted, high-yielding varieties of poplar or willow. The establishment of SRC plantations has much in common with agricultural or horticultural crops as well as forestry. Sustainably managed SRC provides a source of renewable energy with virtually no net carbon emissions (i.e. no increase in atmospheric carbon).
- Stems are usually harvested from SRC plantations every 3–5 years
- Coppice stools remain productive for up to 30 years before they require replacing
- Coppice stems are usually cut and chipped by a dedicated SRC harvester in a single operation.
Planting SRC in place of conventional agricultural crops increases farm diversification and reduces chemical input. Additionally, the plantations form an interesting alternative landscape and habitat type for wildlife.
Grants for establishing and managing SRC
Grants are available for short rotation coppice to allow:
- Establishment and management of SRC plantations
- Setting up of SRC producer groups.
In England, grants towards establishing and managing SRC plantations and setting up SRC producer groups are available through the Energy Crop Scheme run by Defra.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland grants towards establishing and managing SRC plantations are available via the Woodland Grant Scheme (WGS) which is managed by the Forestry Commission in Great Britain and the Forest Service in Northern Ireland. This scheme is being replaced with separate arrangements for each country as follows:
- England: Grants for SRC establishment, management and producer groups will continue to be available through the Energy Crops Scheme.
- Northern Ireland: Grants for planting SRC will continue to be made by the Forest Service.
- Scotland: WGS is already replaced by the Scottish Forestry Grant Scheme, which includes funding for planting SRC.
- Wales: A new grant scheme will be in place from April 2005. Support for the planting of SRC forms part of the Wales Rural Development Plan.
Note that grants for end use of energy crops are managed by the Department of Trade and Industry.