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An acclaimed country house hotel in north Wales is using the trees that surround it to heat its award winning rooms.
Roger Charles-Warner, the owner of Hafod Elwy Hall in Bylchau, Denbighshire, turned to wood to provide heat and water for his guests after heavy winter snow prevented oil deliveries – and the oil they had froze in the pipes.
He sought the advice of the Wood Energy Business Scheme (WEBS) run by Forestry Commission Wales and received a grant to install a log boiler for the five star hotel, which can accommodate up to nine people in three suites.
There is no shortage of raw material for the 50kw boiler, which Roger feeds with trees blown over by the wind gusting across Hiraethog forest, topped up with waste from a local joinery company.
He said, “Oil is so damaging to the environment that we wanted to replace it with a renewable fuel. We’re surrounded by forests here, so it just seemed logical to opt for biomass.
“It isn’t a cheap option initially, so we simply couldn’t have installed our biomass boiler without the WEBS grant.
“The process looks daunting, too, but the staff in the WEBS team were fantastic and helpful every step of the way, which made it easy to manage.”
Roger opted for a high quality model rather than a cheaper, less efficient model, and quickly discovered the boiler wasn’t only beneficial to the environment.
“Now we are seeing oil at 71p a litre, whilst our fuel costs are about one-seventh of that. We’re also helping to provide employment for local foresters.
“It really is an all-round positive move forward for us, the local area and the environment.”
WEBS is a £20 million project part-funded with £7.8 million from the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government.
Run by Forestry Commission Wales, it offers capital investment to small and medium enterprises for woodfuel heating systems and processing equipment to develop the sustainable and renewable wood heat market across Wales.
Hafod Elwy Hall is centuries old and was mentioned in the “Survey of the Honour of Denbighshire”, dated 1334.
The installation of the log boiler is the latest commitment to renewable energy and sustainability made by Roger since he bought the hall in 2004.
Electricity for the hall is supplied by a 5kw wind turbine, with the excess sold to the National Grid. Roger has planted several thousand young trees for later coppicing and virtually all the hotel’s produce is homegrown or reared or sourced locally.
The hotel won a Tourism Gold Award in 2010 and 2011 and in 2007 the business won the Green Snowdonia best sustainable tourism award and the Wales business and sustainability award in the climate change category.
The log boiler has assumed almost celebrity status since it was added to the hall’s green credentials.
“We’re so impressed with our boiler that visitors to the house are all taken to admire it. I have to admit to regularly stroking the boiler and saying, ‘Handsome boy’!
“If others are thinking of changing to biomass I’d say go for it, but remember to choose your appliance and supplier wisely, take all of the advice you can from the WEBS team and don't go for the cheapest option. You won’t regret it.”
Mike Pitcher, WEBS programme manager, said, “Modern woodfuel heating is a clean, convenient and sustainable form of renewable energy.
“By creating demand for wood locally, Forestry Commission Wales can encourage more woodland owners to bring their woodlands into management.
“Better managed woodlands offer higher financial returns to their owners as well as improving habitats for wildlife and offering opportunities for recreation.”
For more information on the WEBS grant scheme, see www.forestry.gov.uk/woodenergywales or contact Michelle Brunt on 0300 068 0088, firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture caption: Roger Charles-Warner, the owner of Hafod Elwy Hall, with the new log boiler
NOTES TO EDITORS
About 14% of Wales is covered by woodlands. Of this, 38% (126,000 hectares/311,000 acres) is owned by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Forestry Commission Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s department of forestry and manages these woodlands on its behalf.
More information on the woodlands of Wales is available on www.forestry.gov.uk/wales
WEBS is a four-year project which runs between 2009 and 2013. Its aim is to provide capital grant support to micro-businesses, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and social enterprises to develop the sustainable and renewable wood heat market across Wales. It offers grants of up to 41% in the Convergence Area of West Wales and the Valleys and 31% in the Regional Competitiveness and Employment area of East Wales.
Three types of project are eligible for grant support:
• Woodfuel heating systems
• Small scale electricity generation using wood - Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
• Woodfuel supply businesses
WEBS builds on the experience of the previous round of funding, also supported with European funding, which Forestry Commission Wales managed between 2004 and 2008, resulting in 17,000 tonnes of CO2 being saved per year using 33,000 tonnes of clean, sustainable fuel.
For more information on WEBS see www.forestry.gov.uk/woodenergywales.
The Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) is part of the Welsh Assembly Government's Department for Economy and Transport and is responsible for administering the European Structural Funds in Wales.
For the period 2007-2013, Wales has been allocated some £1.9 billion by the European Union which will be channelled through the Convergence programmes for West Wales and the Valleys and the Regional Competitiveness and Employment programmes for East Wales.
These funds will generate an investment of over £3 billion and will be used to improve economic growth and employment in line with the Welsh Assembly Government’s strategies and the EU’s Lisbon and Gothenburg agendas. WEFO’s aim is to ensure the European Structural Funds programmes 2007–2013 work efficiently and effectively for Wales, as well as overseeing the conclusion of the 2000-2006 programmes.
For more information on Hafod Elwy Hall, contact Roger Charles-Warner on 01690 770345, email email@example.com
Press office contact: Clive Davies, 0300 068 0061, email firstname.lastname@example.org