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NEWS RELEASE No: 134711 APRIL 2010

Cumbrian textile business joins green energy revolution

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The owners of a textile workshop and mini smallholding near Penrith in Cumbria have switched their energy supply to woodfuel to take a step closer to becoming totally environmentally friendly.

Cecilia and Graham Hewett from Johnby Bank have been backed by the Forestry Commission for thinking green and switching to this cleaner, more efficient and renewable energy source.†

Johnby Bank is a mini smallholding on the Johnby Hall Estate, where Cecilia’s family has lived for many years.†

The Forestry Commission is driving forward the development of woodfuel in England, to increase the output of wood by two million tonnes each year by 2020, enough to supply 250,000 more homes with energy.

Mrs & Mrs Hewett utilise their own woodland in helping to fuel a woodchip boiler, which provides the heating and hot water source for their home and textile workshop.

Cecilia has her own hand-spinning woollen business, which she runs from Johnby Bank, using mohair from her goats and wool from the Estate’s Blue-faced Leicester sheep.

Kindling is gathered from local hedgerows as fodder for their goats, which process it by stripping the leaves and bark.

Peter Fox, Woodfuel Officer for the Forestry Commission, says:

"There is huge potential to increase the use of woodfuel using wood from Cumbria’s undermanaged woodlands. Well-managed woodlands can benefit the local economy by creating and supporting jobs in the woodfuel supply chain. They also provide increased biodiversity benefits and a renewable source of carbon lean fuel.

"The Johnby Bank scheme is a perfect model of how woodfuel can provide financial and carbon savings and will hopefully encourage others to follow.

"It is just one of several schemes that the Forestry Commission has assisted in the past year in North West England. The Commission has also injected over £1.4m in grants, to regenerate the North West’s woodlands and to boost the local economy in the past year."

Graham and Cecilia Hewett are ardent environmentalists, concerned both for the welfare of the local land, where Cecilia grew up, and for the wider world picture, believing that we all have a great responsibility to attempt sustainability in our lives.†

Cecilia Hewett from Johnby Bank, says:

“Wood seems the ideal sustainable solution for us, since we have a ready source, both of windfall and a coppice system which is beginning this year and will help us to manage the woodlands in a way which will be more beneficial to local wildlife.†

“The boiler is easy to light and clean and fits perfectly into the routine of our lifestyle.”

The total cost of the Johnby Bank woodfuel project, including boiler, water storage tanks and installation was £13,500.† The payback period is estimated to be around 10 years.

The boiler is usually lit every two days in the winter using well-seasoned hardwood, such as ash.† One wheelbarrow load of logs is usually all that is required for a burn.†

When softwood is used, the boiler needs refilling a couple of times during its burn, but is still extremely efficient.†† As there always has to be someone on site to tend the animals, lighting the boiler fits into the household routine easily.

The boiler needs to be cleaned on a weekly basis.† It also requires an annual service from the installer and the flue sweeping.

There is no backup boiler, but the house also contains a couple of small wood-burning stoves for use in cold weather, but when it is not cold enough for full heating.† The solar hot water system can run independently of the wood-boiler.††

Lloyd Whittaker of Thermatech installed the system, having worked with Graham Hewett on researching the best heating solution for Johnby Bank.

The woodfuel boiler is part of a larger scheme for a low-energy house and workshop, involving the renovation of the barn adjoining the Hewett’s home.† A timber-frame construction is stuffed with Thermafleece sheep’s wool insulation.

The architect was John Bodger of Penrith.† Building work, stone-masonry and joinery was carried out by Western Construction of Langwathby and the timber frame was provided by Eden Frame.††

It is hoped that the scheme encourages other organisations to consider the environmental, economic and social benefits of using local wood to produce renewable energy.

Life at Johnby Bank is intermittently blogged at

For more information about Thermatech visit

For more information about the Forestry Commission and woodfuel visit


1.† Images of the Johnby Bank woodfuel boiler, woodland and goats are available by calling 01524-782086.

2.† National Woodfuel Policy - The UK Government is committed to combating climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% of 1990 levels by 2050.† In 2008, Government signed up to European targets to produce 15% of all energy produced in the UK from renewable sources and the recent Renewable Energy Strategy proposed that 30% of that renewable energy would come from bioenergy.† Woodfuel is a sustainable and low carbon source of bioenergy that can make a substantial contribution to achieving these targets.† For more information on national renewable energy and climate change policy visit the Department for Energy and Climate website.

Within the Forestry Commission, England, Scotland and Wales are working in partnership with many private and public sector organisations to help deliver these national bioenergy targets.

3.† †Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For further information visit

4.†Forestry Commission England runs the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) to support and promote the national and regional delivery of forestry policy, as set out in the Government's Rural Strategy. EWGS is part of the Defra family of environmental support. Further information about these schemes can be found at EWGS is a part of the Rural Development Plan for England (RDPE).

5.†The Forestry Commission (FC) North West England (NEW) is a regional arm of the Forestry Commission.† It supports the delivery of widespread public benefits across the region, using woodland management and creation as the basis for change. The FC NWE region has a diverse remit; as a grant giving body to the woodland sector; the region's forestry regulatory body; helping the region to address climate change by developing wood fuel supply; supporting and developing the region's forest and woodland industries; actively promoting and protecting the Northwest's natural heritage (especially ancient trees and woodlands) and enabling communities across the region to live healthier lives. For further information visit

Peter Fox (Woodland Officer) on 017687-76616 or 07768-142942

Chris Johnson, Press Officer, Forestry Commission England, tel 01223 346034, email