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The remarkable success of the woodfuel supply sector in recent years has seen it grow to the point where cooperation and consolidation will be required to maximise future growth.
Those are the findings of a recent survey of small to medium scale woodfuel producers across Scotland, England and Wales.
The report was commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland through the Regional Biomass Advice Network programme in partnership with Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise and funded by the EU, found that around three quarters of those companies that took part felt that a focused trade organisation would deliver benefits to the sector.
Rebecca Carr, Renewables Advisor for the Commission said:
“Woodfuel has a big part to play in helping to meet renewable energy targets and in cutting our carbon emissions and it is becoming an increasingly popular, cost effective option for businesses, communities and individuals.
“As a result, the sector has grown massively over the past five years or so. It’s been a great success but the sector has now got to the stage where greater cooperation and support – implemented now – will help to sustain development and growth in the future.”
As well as serving as a source of information, advice and guidance, a trade association could advocate for the sector, helping to build consumer confidence, promote woodfuel across the UK and foster new businesses entering the supply chain.
A forum of the key existing trade bodies and agencies provided input to the report and are discussing how to take this initiative forward.
Gaynor Hartnell, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said
“The Forestry Commission is correct in its analysis. We are delighted to announce that a group of woodfuel suppliers held an inaugural meeting in March at which REA was invited to give an update on key policy issues. They elected Robert Bland, Chairman of Midland Wood Fuels Ltd to the Chair the newly-formed “REA Woodheat Suppliers group.”
Robert Bland, newly elected Chair of the Woodheat Suppliers Group, added:
“Looking after the interests of the growing number of the nation’s woodheat distributors will ensure that this vitally important sector will continue to make an increased contribution to Britain’s efforts to move towards a carbon lean economy.”
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Forest Industries (ConFor) said
“ConFor has successfully lobbied government and worked with the Forestry Commission to support the development of local biomass heat and power, and to increase overall wood supply.
“The UK has a finite resource of woody biomass and it is important that this delivers enduring benefits for carbon and jobs, and for the forestry and wood-using sector.
"Many businesses engaged in wood energy are already members of ConFor and we will be arranging meetings in Scotland and England to discuss, following this useful report, what more we can do for them.”
For more information about the survey findings, visit www.usewoodfuel.co.uk
1) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 665,000 hectare national forest estate. Scottish forestry is making a sustainable contribution to Scotland’s economy. Over 31,000 jobs are now supported by the forestry sector in Scotland and the industry generates around £670 million each year. With wood being an important and renewable resource, our forests and woodlands are helping support many rural communities and businesses. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
2) The survey was commissioned by Forestry Commission Scotland through the ERDF-funded Regional Biomass Advice Network.