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Powering up for a greener future

[Wednesday 3 March 2010]

Bradford hosts National Renewable Energy Conference – this major event on 15 March is aimed at outlining groundbreaking new Government proposals to expand the use of renewable energy sources like woodfuel.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has unveiled national plans to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme which would provide financial support for those who install renewable heating systems.

The move is part of a push to reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and encourage greener low carbon technology to help combat climate change.

Now the Forestry Commission and White Rose Forest are staging one of only two consultation events taking place anywhere in England on behalf of the DECC in Bradford City Hall to explain the proposals and prompt feedback on the scheme.

The venue is the perfect choice as Bradford City Hall is one of the growing number of local authority buildings heated using a wood chip boiler.

Rudie Humphrey, Woodfuel Co-ordinator for Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

“It’s a major coup to get this event in Bradford and shows that we are in the vanguard of exploring and installing greener forms of heating in this region. According to a recent survey Yorkshire and the Humber has more biomass heat boilers than anywhere else in England. This consultation event is a chance to find out more about what incentives could be available and have a say about shaping a cleaner and greener future.”

Wood is being heavily touted as the fuel of the future – and not without reason. Bradford Metropolitan Council alone owns over 870 hectares (2175 acres) of woodland and has just lodged a grant application with the DECC to create a processing building allowing it to produce wood chips from its own timber to help meet its energy needs.

Across the region there’s massive scope to expand the woodfuel sector. Yorkshire and the Humber has 92,000 hectares (230,000 acres) of woodland, 25% of which are managed by the Forestry Commission.

Forest chiefs reckon 50% of the remaining woods in private or local authority ownership are under-managed and could produce more timber on a sustainable basis, whilst also improving the habitat for wildlife like woodland birds, insects and small mammals.

Rudie Humphrey added:

“Woodlands are a great untapped resource and it’s a step in the right direction to see Bradford Council looking to locally sourced wood chips, rather than using more fossil fuels like oil and gas. The Government's proposed new incentive scheme will help make it financial viable for many other organisations and businesses to follow suit.”

The consultation event is aimed at businesses and organisations which have a high heat demand, biomass heating installers, renewable fuel suppliers, architects and designers, wood recyclers and building maintenance companies or departments. To register contact Rudie Humphrey, on 01904 382317 or email: rudie.humphrey@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

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