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Wood as a fuel - Sustainability

Woodfuel will play an important role in the future energy mix of the UK.

Both at a domestic and community scale there are real opportunities to develop supply chains locally that can meet energy demands. The production and use of woodfuel is likely to increase as a result. To achieve the full benefits of the use of wood as a fuel its sustainability through harvesting, processing, to end use, must be safeguarded.

The Forestry Commission Woodfuel Implementation Plan states that woodfuel production must be based on sustainable forest management if the environmental benefits of the technology are to be realised.

From Autumn 2015, to qualify for the RHI your supply of woodfuel must be from a proven legal and sustainable source. The Forestry Commission and DECC have worked to develop sustainability criteria for woodfuel in the UK. This criteria, has been defined in the government’s Timber standard for heat and electricity which stipulates that woodfuel meets the standard if it originates from an independently verifiable legal and sustainable source and appropriate documentation is provided to prove it. The government has provided guidance on meeting these standards.

You can meet this standard by ensuring that any harvesting of woodfuel is carried out as part of a UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) compliant management plan, and that the woodfuel produced can be traced back reliably to its original source. There are exceptions to this in the case of self-supply where the sustainability of the fuel will be assumed if it is grown and harvested on the same estate as where the biomass boiler using the woodfuel is housed. You will still need a management plan and felling licence in place.

Last updated: 11th July 2017
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This web section is provided in partnership with DECC.