Friday, 24 February 2012

Renewable Heat Incentive - application help events

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Maximising Opportunities for the Forestry and Woodland Sectors

The RDPE Network, working with organisations from Forestry and Woodland sectors is holding a free workshop for members of the Forestry and Woodland Sectors on Thursday 8 March 2012 in Birmingham. 
  • Location: Birmingham
  • Date: Thursday 08, March 2012
This workshop provides the opportunities to discuss the recent changes to the RDPE Programme in relation to the Forestry and Woodland Sectors as well as giving you an opportunity to feed in your ideas with regards the post-2013 policy and implementation (see Draft agenda and booking form).

Please return your booking form by Friday 2 March 2012. Places are limited so return your booking form early to secure your place.

The focus of the day is discussion, so each session will provide a brief overview / case study to stimulate further dialogue.

The event is FREE to attend and refreshments and lunch will be provided.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Support for Forestry Apprenticeships in the South East

We're all starting to see some interesting developments in the markets for wood and we anticipate this will help bring management back to many woods where it's been uneconomic for many years.

However, if we're to service these markets it's likely we'll need some new staff in in the mainstream forest industry.

Many of you are already aware that the Forestry Commission has managed to garner a little extra support from Defra to support 'main stream' forestry apprenticeships.

We've been talking to Plumpton college about the formal training that supports apprenticeships and seeking practical advice from forestry contractors.

The FC is also working with the Small Woods Association which has organised a 'Work in the Woods week' from 5-7th March at the Woodland Enterprise Centre at Flimwell in East Sussex to give potential apprentices a taste for what forestry work is really like.

In the afternoon of Wednesday the 7th there will be a barbeque where potential employers can come to meet potential apprentices. This will be followed by a short meeting for forestry contractors who are considering taking on an apprentice where we'll outline the support available and discuss the practical training which is really needed and the barriers which we collectively need to overcome.

If any of you are directly interested or know of someone who might be, either as someone seeking an apprentice or looking to become an apprentice, please see the contact details above.

If you would like to attend the barbecue and learn more please let me know no later than Monday the 5th March.

The UK Government has also recently announced a 'cash injection for business to boost youth jobs':

Thousands of companies will be receiving a letter calling on them to play their part in getting young people earning or learning.

Employers will be able to access cash to help cover the cost of taking on fresh talent through a ‘wage subsidy’.  The subsidy will be paid to companies for taking on young unemployed people and is designed to cover costs like National Insurance contributions.

The wage subsidy will pay £2,275 to employers for every 18 – 24 year old unemployed person they employ from the Work Programme.

It is open to all businesses, voluntary organisations and charities.

Payments for the majority of business will be made after the young person has been employed for 26 weeks.  For smaller enterprises these payments will be staggered, with the first payment after 8 weeks and the rest after 26.  This recognises that smaller businesses need a boost to their cashflow to make the jobs viable.

The wage incentive will also be available for part time positions, with a rate of £1,137.50 if someone is employed between 16 and 29 hours.

The Youth Contract was launched in November and aims to lift all young people out of unemployment.  It will also support at least 20,000 extra incentive payments worth £1,500 each for employers to take on young people as apprentices, taking the total number of payments available to 40,000.

250,000 additional work experience places will be created through the Department for Work and Pension’s work experience and sector-based work academies programmes.

Extra support will be given through Jobcentre Plus in the form of weekly, rather than fortnightly, signing-on meetings, more time to talk to an adviser and a National Careers Service interview.

Employers can register their interest in supporting the Youth Contract and can find out more via the DWP website at

Friday, 17 February 2012

Woodfuel WIG training days

If you are seeking to engage new woodland owning clients, access ‘roads’ grants and increase your expertise in forest road building these FREE training days are designed to help you to access the Forestry Commission Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant.
Register now on one of the following one-day workshops for professional woodland managers aimed at demystifying the Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant (Woodfuel WIG).

Flimwell Woodland Enterprise Centre, EAST SUSSEX
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 09:00 to 16:30

Englefield Estate, HAMPSHIRE
Thursday, 8 March 2012 09:00 to 16:30

You will learn how the grant operates, understand its technical requirements and be able to compile a Woodland Improvement Grant calculator. You will come away fully equipped to confidently recommend the scheme to owners, help them towards a successful application, and improve the profitably of their inaccessible compartments with high quality, grant-aided roads and tracks.

You will be able to quiz the WIG administrator, our consultant engineer and Forestry Commission representatives about all aspects of forest roads and grant aid. And you will come away with a valuable resource pack containing all of the information you need to help your clients to improve their woodland’s infrastructure and capital value.
It will be a packed day – but it’s not all classroom; after a complimentary lunch there will be an afternoon site visit to discuss some of the theory in a real-life situation.

BOOK NOW! Click on the links above to register or call 01494 568976.

Further events are planned for the MIDLANDS, YORKSHIRE & THE HUMBER, CORNWALL and SOMERSET.  To register your interest for forthcoming events please call 01494 568976 or email with your contact details.

Places are limited and we expect that there will be high demand for these events so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

£40m for Expansion East Kent programme

In November 2011 Kent County Council received the green light from Government for its £40 million bid to drive new jobs and business growth in East Kent.  

This follows the announcement by the Government of £950 million to help create and safeguard more than 200,000 jobs across England through the Government's Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund – East Kent, which is to be known as ‘’Expansion East Kent’, has a target to generate 5,000 jobs via grant support for the expansion of both new and existing businesses.  This is in addition to the Enterprise Zone established at Discovery Park.

Given the large population in East Kent, and its relative remoteness to existing woodfuel supply chains, there may be an opportunity for existing biomass businesses to expand their operations into East Kent. 

There is already a lot of activity surrounding waste wood, largely as a result of the way that household waste contracts are evolving.  Recent application to demolish the redundant cooling towers at the former Richborough power station also suggests that plans for the Richborough Energy Park are gaining momentum.

The wood pellet supply chain in East Kent is probably the most poorly developed and this might benefit from new 'hubs' that established pellet suppliers can supply from. 

Given the cost of delivery of pellets its competitiveness against locally produced wood chip is questionable, particularly for small volumes.  However, the relatively sparse woodland cover, compared to that in the Downs and Weald areas, also means that delivered chip can also be relatively expensive.

Whether chip and pellet feature in any of the existing projects biomass projects in unclear, but with the opening of the Renewable Heat Incentive and the forthcoming Green Deal expansion of woodfuel supply chains in East Kent may be an opportunity for some, particularly if it is linked to other activities such as clean waste wood aggregation, arboriculture and woodland management.

Grants will be made available to all sizes of applicants from £25K for small businesses up to £2.5 million for businesses with over 250 employees: 

  • Springboard grants of up to £25,000 for start-ups and small businesses with less than 10 employees
  • Larger Grants for Investment and Growth, worth up to £2.5 million
  • Business Critical Infrastructure Grants, to support the delivery of infrastructure projects which will benefit a number of businesses such as High Speed rail line enhancement on the Ashford – Ramsgate route.

The fund will be administered by Locate in Kent and will be available from Spring 2012.  Full details and the application process are yet to be published.