Minister announces wood fuel task force

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15 JUNE 2007NEWS RELEASE No: 12241

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Environment Minister, Michael Russell, announced today that he has asked Forestry Commission Scotland to convene an industry-wide 'task force' to consider how to increase the supply of wood for renewable energy production. The new task force will consider ways of bringing forward supplies from currently under-utilised sources such as forest residues, short rotation coppice and under-managed woodlands. It will also consider the impact of increased demand for wood fuel on the future balance between supply and demand within the wood processing sector. The task force will be led by Forestry Commission Scotland and will include representatives from the renewable energy, wood processing and land management sectors. The announcement was made during a visit to E.ON's 90 million biomass plant in Lockerbie, the largest of its kind in the UK. Currently, E.ON expects to begin testing the plant after the summer and commission the station by the turn of the year. Overall, the new biomass station could provide over 300 jobs in the forestry and farming sector. Mr Russell said: "The E.ON biomass plant in Lockerbie is certainly very impressive. When it is operational it will generate enough green power to meet the needs of 70,000 homes and displace the emission of 140,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, a significant contribution towards renewable energy targets. "It is clear that the demand for wood as a raw material is increasing in Scotland. This is due to more forward looking businesses and organisations opting for wood as a fuel for renewable energy. This is good news but we need to work harder to ensure that the correct supplies are available to meet the upsurge in demand. "The new Scottish Government is committed to supporting the woodfuel industry and we want to do this by working in partnership with the industry. This new task force signals a fresh drive to develop the woodfuel sector and maximise the opportunities." Forestry Commission Scotland has a number of woodfuel officers around the country who are working with a range of organisations to help develop and demonstrate the benefits of changing to wood fired systems. Already, the Commission has been helping both small and large scale woodfuel projects get under way and by next year is expected to be supplying well over 100,000 tonnes of material for woodfuel. Forestry Commission Scotland also has a contract to provide timber to the woodfuel supplier for the E.ON plant. Head of Construction at E.ON Adrian Chatterton said: “We were delighted to welcome the Minister to Steven’s Croft. When we commission the plant later this year it will be a flagship addition to our fleet.” During Mr Russell's visit to the area he saw the whole woodfuel process in action from harvesting the timber through to the processing of it at James Jones before it is moved on to the E.ON plant. He also stopped in at the Barony College to discuss forestry training issues. Notes to editors 1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government's forestry department. It manages 668,000 hectares of national forest land for multiple benefits, including nature conservation, public recreation, timber production, and rural and community development; supports other woodland owners with grants, felling licences, advice and regulation; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Ministers on forestry policy. For further information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland. 2. E.ON is the UK's largest integrated power and gas company - generating, distributing and retailing electricity - and is part of the E.ON group, the world's largest investor-owned power and gas company. It employs around 16,000 people in the UK. E.ON is one of the leading green generators with 20 wind farms located from Cornwall to Northern Ireland. Two of their power stations burn biomass material with the new Steven’s Croft plant set to be the largest of its kind in the UK. 3. Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508 or 07771 730 509. For E.ON contact Emily Highmore on 02476 183 680.

e-mail: steve.williams@forestry.gsi.gov.uk