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A 33 year old fly fisherman has netted a top job in the region’s expanding forestry sector.
Ben Tansey, from Glanton, has been appointed Director of Northwoods, an organisation which backs forest businesses with training and advice, from marketing products to securing grants, improving skills and encouraging inward investment.
Ben studied for a forestry degree at Edinburgh University, during which time he worked for the United States Forest Service.
After graduating he packed his rough guides once again and went globetrotting, eventually working in the state run forests of Australia. But now he’s on home turf to help strengthen the North East’s leading role in developing the woodfuel sector.
The region is England’s biggest timber growing area, producing 750,000 tonnes annually.
The Forestry Commission alone supplies 25% of all English grown timber from Kielder Forest, 30,000 tonnes of which is used as fuel, mainly at SembCorp on Teesside.
“Wood is one of the fuels of the future and my job to is help make the most of the opportunities. Fossil fuel prices are unpredictable and have recently been increasing, but well managed woods can produce timber year after year. About 70% of our work at Northwoods is now devoted to the development of the wood fuel sector, showing just what an expanding area this is in terms of the economy and job creation.”
Ben had a previous stint working at Northwoods where he helped deliver several projects including the award winning Ignite woodfuel programme, which provides local businesses and employees with training to exploit the woodfuel market, from managing woods to marketing.
Nearly 1,000 people have already benefited from across the UK. Before rejoining Northwoods, he worked for a national company fitting woodfuel installations nationally.
Richard Pow from the Forestry Commission added:
“We are delighted that Ben has taken up the Director role at such a crucial time as there is a massive economic opportunity for the North East. We estimate that the woodfuel sector will double in value to the region by 2015. The case for using wood as fuel is becoming widely accepted.
“The Government has set tough targets to cut emissions to help combat climate change. It’s a greener alternative to coal, oil or gas, but we need more private land owners to bring their woods in the region into management. Over 50% of such woods are under managed, representing a vast timber resource going untapped.”
“The region’s woods and forests could produce an additional 100,000 tonnes of wood per year on a sustainable basis and much of this could be used as fuel. Wildlife would also benefit from woodland thinning and well planned cycles of felling and planting.”
When Ben isn’t contemplating the value of trees, he’s a keen fly fisherman and also enjoys walking, sea kayaking and grows competition leeks. He also practices what he preaches and was an early convert to woodfuel, installing a stove in his own home.
Richard Darn on 01226 246351, mobile 0775 367 0038.
NOTES TO EDITOR
1. There are a growing number of small and medium sized wood fuel heating systems in the North East, including 30 schools, plus leisure centres, hotels and supermarkets. Major industrial users include SempCorp on Teesside which consumes around 300,000 tonnes of wood each year. New users sit alongside long established markets such as sawmills and wood processing plants like Eggers’ world class facility at Hexham.
2. Next year the Government is proposing to introduce a new Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which will offer financial rewards to companies, organisations and individuals that opt to go green, making the case of woodfuel even more compelling.
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 more go to www.forestry.gov.uk/NorthEastEngland
4. Northwoods is supported financially by the regional development agency, One NorthEast, Forestry Commission England and other project partners. Northwoods exists to increase and sustain the number of businesses that rely on the production, processing and sale of timber and other woodland products and to encourage the better management of small and unmanaged woodlands across North East England. For more go to www.northwoods.org.uk