Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Renewable Heat Incentive is open for business

DECC has now announced the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Scheme and Ofgem's systems are now open and available to accept applications.

We have had a initial look at the online application process and it appears to be relatively simple.  However, you will need all paperwork close at hand (in electronic format) to increase the chances of completing the process in one sitting.  You can of course save the application and return later if you need to source additional information.

A few points of interest:
  • The person applying should be the authorised signatory for the organisation
  • You will need details of a valid bank account and proof that the bank account provided is held in the name of the organisation/company (e.g. copy of a bank statement which shows the account name, address, sort code and account number with financial information blackened out)
  • For 'simple' schemes Ofgem will respond within 20 working days
  • For 'complex' schemes Ofgem will reply within 30 working days
  • You will need to apply for preliminary accreditation if you installation date is greater than one month from the present (application) date AND your biomass boiler is over 200kWth (i.e. medium scale and above)
  • You will need to attach (or post) a series of documents so it would be worthwhile ensuring these are all at hand before you start.
  • You will need to be able to separate capital costs from non-direct costs (i.e. installer costs, planning costs and anything not attributable directly to the purchase or construction of the physical plant)
For further information, useful links and details on how to apply to the scheme please visit the RHI website: http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/RHI.

For a summary of some of the documents and information which participants may be required to submit please refer to the following document “Summary of supporting information for RHI applicants”:

If you have any queries please contact the Ofgem E-Serve RHI Team on 0845 200 2122. The helpline opening hours are 8:30am until 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 8:30am until 4:30pm on Fridays.

Alternatively, you can send an email to RHI.Enquiry@Ofgem.gov.uk.  It is recommended that complicated enquiries are sent via email.

Good luck!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Good turnout at Woodfuel Pathfinder contractors event

The function room at the Dog & Bear in Lenham was packed to the gunwales last Thursday as forestry contractors from Kent and Sussex gathered for a roller coaster update on apprenticeships and training, grants and the evolving market for woodland products.

Around 70 people representing a wide range of businesses with an interest in the forestry and woodland management sectors attended the event.  There was a lot of interest in the new woodfuel grant (WF WIG) from the Forestry Commission, LEADER and the new Farm and Forestry Investment Scheme (FFIS). 

Mike Furness from Ngage Solutions, the company responsible for delivering the WF WIG in the South East said:

"It was great to have a packed room to spread the word to.  We have already had two firm follow-up calls for significant roading schemes as a result of the event and we would encourage anyone with an interest to get in touch."

Feedback since the event also suggests a high level of interest in the LEADER and FFIS schemes, both of which are designed to assist rural businesses invest in green projects and new machinery.

There was a lot of debate on the night about how potential apprentices could be identified and retained in the forestry sector.  Some delegates also raised concerns about the cost of equipment and training for new staff.  However, a quick show of hands revealed that six businesses were considering taking on apprentices.  The training providers in attendance at the event (Plumpton College and Concept Training) also expressed great interest in supporting these businesses with work-based learning for apprentices.

The Forestry Commission provided a summary of how markets for woodland products, and in particular wood fuel, are developing and highlighted several examples of installed biomass heating schemes and local wood chip supply chains.

As the evening progressed a clear message emerged: A good package of support for the land-based sector still exists, and with the recent announcement of two major new grants (with a combined total of £30m funding) now is the time to pick up the phone and find out how your business can take advantage. 

The presentations from the event can be found here:

The imminent opening of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) at the end of November will provide a strong market-based opportunity for the forestry sector over the next few years.  If your business needs support on any of the subjects covered in this article then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the Kent Downs Woodfuel Pathfinder on 01303 815 171 or matthew.morris@kentdowns.org.uk.

Monday, 14 November 2011

£20m for farming, forestry and horticultural businesses

Alan TYERS - Hayrolls, Highdown Farm
A new £20 million fund to help farming, forestry and horticultural businesses to become more efficient at using resources has been launched. The scheme aims to help businesses to become more competitive and more profitable, whilst reducing the impact of farming on the environment.

This announcement comes only a few days after the launch of the new £10m Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant by the Forestry Commission.

Farmers, foresters, woodland owners, agricultural contractors and horticulturalists can apply for grants of up to £25,000 to invest in green projects, new machinery and improvements to animal health and welfare so their businesses can grow in an environmentally friendly way.

The Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme will fund projects that:
  • save energy and reduce carbon emissions
  • reduce dependence on artificial fertilizers through better use of manures
  • improve soil quality
  • improve animal health and welfare
  • save and recycle water
  • promote woodland management by processing timber more efficiently

In Kent the LEADER programme has been very successful at providing RDPE grants for a wide variety of land-based and rural businesses.  It is understood that the new FFIS scheme may replace LEADER, although there is underspend in some other regions and this may be used to top-up the Kent LEADERs (providing there is enough demand to warrant an extension).

More information on LEADER, the new FFIS scheme and a range of other topics will be provided at our forthcoming contractors event at the Dog & Bear (Lenham) on Thursday, November 17th. 

There are still some places left so please contact us if you would like to come along (matthew.morris@kentdowns.org.uk , 01303 815 171).

Friday, 11 November 2011

£10m to boost woodland management for woodfuel

A new £10m grant scheme to revitalise woodland management has been announced by Forestry Commission England today, 10 November 2011. The new scheme aims to produce woodfuel by improving roads and access for extraction.

Around half of England’s woodlands are undermanaged. There are many reasons for this but one is certainly the high cost of extracting timber so that it can be brought to market. Supporting owners and managers to improve roads and access will reduce harvesting costs and once again make woodland management economically viable.

Pam Warhurst, Forestry Commission Chair said:
“There is an old phrase that says “A wood that pays is a wood that stays.” We are delighted to be able to launch this new scheme to revitalise the economic viability of sustainable woodland management by helping get timber to market. It will create rural jobs and help grow the green economy.”

Applicants will have to have long term management plans for the woodlands that meet the new UK Forestry Standard.  The plans will say how much timber they expect to harvest over the next decade so we will be able to see clearly what the benefits are from each new road built.

The new Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant (or Woodfuel WIG), will improve the infrastructure of undermanaged woodlands and contribute to the costs of marketing timber. As well as supplying the growing woodfuel market from thinnings and other operations, well managed woodland can also produce high quality timber. In turn this management improves the quality of woodlands for wildlife.

Woodfuel WIG is available throughout England but most of the funds are targeted towards the South East, South West and Cumbria, where there is greater potential for woodfuel supply.

This new grant is open for applications now and will operate alongside the Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme, recently launched by Defra to provide comprehensive support to the woodfuel supply chain.

Woodfuel Woodland Improvement grant key features
  • This new grant supports the sustainable production of woodfuel and other timber products and runs to the end of the 2013/14 financial year
  • Work will need to meet the UK Foresty Standard
  • The grant offers 60% towards the cost of work, and doesn’t take account of the timber income that results
  • To apply for a Woodfuel WIG, applicants must have an approved, up to date Woodland Management Plan, and work must be completed and claimed for by 28 February 2014
The following main operations are supported:
  • Roads, tracks and other infrastructure to assist the extraction of timber from woodland. Support will be based on 3 quotes and grant paid on the production of receipted invoices
  • Woodland inventory and costs associated with managing harvesting contracts. Support for this work is based on standard costs