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A new survey on green energy from Forestry Commission England has shown the South East is a hot spot for the use of biomass.
With 232 biomass boilers identified in the region, it comes second in England for the potential amount of energy produced, after Yorkshire and the Humber.
The South East had the joint largest rise in the number of boilers identified, along with the South West, with 75 more in each region since the 2008 survey.
The Commission is supporting the use of biomass and is working to increase the amount of woodfuel reaching this growing market and the number of boilers being installed.
Gillian Alker, the Forestry Commission’s SE woodfuel co-ordinator, said:
"Being the most wooded region in England, it’s great to see lots of woodfuelled systems in the South East.
“Some of our protected landscapes such as the South Downs, Chilterns and Kent Downs seem to be doing particularly well at adopting locally-produced, green energy. We’ve also got HMP Isle of Wight using woodfuel from local forests to heat its catering unit.
“We want more woodland owners to consider managing their woodlands to supply this growing market – and improve their local environment for people and wildlife.”
“The region has more than 270,000 hectares of woodland, which is about 25% of the total in England.
“Just under half of the South East’s woodland is undermanaged. By using traditional woodland management practices such as coppicing and thinning, an extra 500,000 tonnes of woodfuel a year could be generated.
“This additional woodfuel could provide approximately 900 gigawatt hours of renewable heat, if used in modern, highly efficiency biomass boilers, or enough energy to heat around 45,000 homes.
“By managing woodlands for fuel production, we can help improve biodiversity, as well as creating jobs in rural areas.
”We want more people to consider this traditional fuel as a future energy-source.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
1. The Forestry Commission 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. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england
2. For more information about woodfuel go to: www.forestry.gov.uk/england-woodfuel
3. The Biomass Heat Boilers in England 2009 survey was commissioned for the Forestry Commission, by the Renewable Energy Association Ltd. The survey was based on the responses from 35 organisations on non-domestic biomass boilers.
Chris Johnson, Press Officer, Forestry Commission England, tel 01223 346034, email email@example.com