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Forestry Commission backs Lancashire's biggest Woodfuel project

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boiler at Capernwray

A Christian holiday centre and bible school has become the first and largest organisation of its kind in Lancashire to switch its energy supply to woodfuel and take a step closer to becoming totally environmentally friendly.

Capernwray Hall, at Carnforth in north Lancashire, attracts more than 250 students and 2,000 holiday guests each year, and has been backed by the Forestry Commission to think green to switch to this cleaner, more efficient and renewable energy source.

The 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.

Capernwray utilises its own woodland in helping to fuel a woodchip boiler, which provides the heating and hot water source for the whole campus, including accommodation areas, dining room, kitchens, sports hall and swimming pool.

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

"There is huge potential to increase the use of woodfuel using wood from Lancashire'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 Capernwray 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 supported in the past year in North West England, injecting over £1.4m in grants to regenerate woodlands and to boost the local economy."

As well as the annual fuel cost savings, the campus has drastically cut its carbon footprint by 367 tonnes a year. And it is anticipated that Capernwray's present forestry plantations can provide 34 tonnes of timber per year for the woodfuel system over the next ten years.

There are 12 hectares of woodland on the Capernwray estate and in addition to the local timber supply, the estate operation includes a working farm, which provides the labour, material and buildings necessary for the woodfuel that the system uses.

The majority of the woodfuel project work was carried out by Capernwray's own workforce, from heating design through boiler construction, installation of pipework and much of the internal control systems.

It involved replacing the oil boilers and renewing flues through the old building and after allowing for the grants obtained, it should take less than five years for the scheme to pay for itself with the savings on heating costs.

Phil Burt from Capernwray Hall, added:

"The boiler and the whole new heating system is proving to be an excellent investment in terms of both cost and efficiency.

"We entered into this project with some trepidation, unsure of how it would work out, but results have shown that our decision was right.

"We did consider all other 'green' options before making our choice. In the end, our final decision in plumping for woodfuel was influenced by the amount of wood we can source from our own land, the cost, control of our own heat source and the environmental aspect."

The added advantage of community-based schemes like Capernwray is that local residents and visitors are fully involved in the estate's timber production. It is hoped that the scheme encourages other organisation's to consider the environmental, economic and social benefits of using local wood to produce renewable energy.

It is anticipated that further business opportunities may be created in the local area by supplying chip to local users or hiring equipment plus operator to others.

For more information about Capernwray visit or view a case study visit at

For more information about the Forestry Commission and woodfuel visit

1.† Images of the Capernwray woodfuel boiler 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.

4.† †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

5.†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).

6.†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

7.†The Capernwray woodfuel project was also supported by Heizomat GmbH, Mercia Energy Ltd, Nobbs & Jones, Jeff Hall, Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, DEFRA Rural Enterprise Scheme, Lancashire Environment Fund, Lancashire Woodlands Project, Leader +, SITA UK and Carbon Trust (interest free loan).

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

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