Thursday, 30 October 2014

Re-ignite: A seminar for Wood Heating in the Public Sector

Installing biomass heating in public sector buildings can be very hard to achieve.  Barriers range from institutional inertia to a basic lack of understanding of alternatives to oil, gas or LPG systems.

To help unravel this complicated set of problems South East Wood Fuels, in partnership with Rural Energy, will deliver a one day seminar on November 18th at The Keep in Brighton.

Places can be booked via the South East Wood Fuels website or by telephone on 01323 340041.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

National Woodfuel Conference 2014

The Pathfinder project recently attended the National Wood Fuel Conference which took place on October 17th at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking in Surrey.

The event was very well attended and many of the most notable wood fuel, biomass and forestry companies were in attendance.  The event was expertly put together by Surrey Hills Enterprises (part of the Surrey Hills AONB).

Highlights for us included a presentation by Ben Ditchburn from the Forestry Commission (see here) who provided strong evidence of the level of timber and biomass stocks in woodlands in the South East of England.  

Ben's presentation was widely appreciated, primarily because his data confirmed how timber extraction, even at enhanced levels, will sit comfortably alongside increasing stocks of timber and carbon in our forests.

Guy Boulby from DECC, who's presentation covered the future of heating in the UK, discussed the likely role that biomass heating will play over the next 20 to 30 years.  Ben explained how biomass will act as an important transition technology until other technologies will start to play a bigger role.

Of great interest was the launch of new biomass heating guidance from CIBSE by David Palmer and his colleagues.

The presentation provided a background to why the guidance was needed and how it has been developed.

The guidance, which can be downloaded free of charge from the CIBSE website, focuses on technical aspects and will be of most use to biomass heating installers, heating engineers and people and building services specialists.

All in all the National Wood Fuel Conference, now in its fourth year, provided an authoritative demonstration of wood fuel sustainability and how the biomass sector can help bring neglected woodlands back into positive management.

All of the presentations can be found here.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Development of Forestry Businesses - FREE Demonstration Workshops

The Forestry Commission will deliver three demonstration events in November.  
These are designed to illustrate how three forestry businesses located in the South East have grown over the last seven years and how Rural Development Programme England (RDPE) support has helped facilitate this growth.

The events are described below.  Contact and booking details can be found at the end of the article.

Friday 7th November – Balcombe Estate nr Crawley

Balcombe Estate has a long history of integrated woodland management maintaining their estate sawmill and pursuing new markets for wood products. 

RDPE support has helped them build their woodfuel supply business, including supporting the purchase of a 360 mounted harvester in partnership with a nearby estate. They are currently exploring how they can grasp the growing interest in locally grown timber by upgrading their sawmill and marketing. 

As they grow their business they are also exploring how they can work collaboratively with complimentary businesses and neighbours.

This event will include:
  • First hand experience of a previous grant recipient
  • A walking tour and demonstration of harvesting/firewood processing
  • Lunch and refreshments

This event will illustrate how entrepreneurial management and enthusiasm can grow forestry business in lowland England and how RDPE support and collaboration can help accelerate this process. 

This event will be of particular interest to anyone exploring how they can grow their forestry business in SE England. 

Registration from 9.45am for a 10am start. Lunch will be provided.

Tuesday 18th November - H G Matthews Brickworks nr Chesham

H G Matthews illustrates how a local business with high energy needs has developed the use of locally sourced wood as a fuel along with the supply chain to meet their needs. 

This event will be of particular interest to local businesses considering use of locally grown wood, contractors who are looking to expand or establish woodfuel supply chains and owners exploring options for woodfuel supply. 

This event will include:

First hand experience of a previous grant recipient
  • Walking tour of the brickworks
  • Lunch and refreshments at a nearby public house. 

Space is restricted and so we can only accommodate 20 individuals at this event. Only one person per company/organisation please. 

Registration from 9.45am for a 10am start. Lunch will be provided.

Thursday 27th November - Brockwood Park Farm nr Petersfield

Brockwood Park Farm illustrates how woodlands on farms and estates can be managed cost effectively to deliver woodfuel to heat the owner’s, neighbours’ and/or local business properties

Heating oil is becoming ever more expensive and few people realise that a tonne of seasoned wood can deliver as much heat as 350 litres of heating oil and you may be eligible for support from the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Alex Morton at Brockwood Park has carefully considered his options and brought together a package of equipment, infrastructure and skills to help him manage his woods extremely well and supply woodfuel to the adjacent school as well as heat his home. He is now exploring opportunities to extend his forestry management with neighbours.

This event will include:
  • First hand experience of a previous grant recipient
  • A walking tour of woodfuel processing site

Registration from 9.45am for a 10am start. 

As these are ‘on site’ visits spaces are limited and hence early registration is encouraged. To book please click here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Bioenergy demonstration project - FREE event

Monday, 13 October 2014

Bredhurst Woodland Action Group (BWAG) - Update and Forthcoming Events October 2014

Latest update from the good people at Bredhurst Hurst (one of Kent's most well run community woodlands).

BWAG Land Purchase

BWAG has now finalised the purchase of their 6th plot in Bredhurst Woods.  In total, BWAG own just under 9 acres of woodland.  Proceeds from all events go towards further purchases to enable BWAG to secure as many plots as possible, ensuring Bredhurst Woods remains a community amenity for generations to come.

Photographs for BWAG 2015 Calendar

If anyone has any photos of the woods and the surrounding area that you would like to be considered for next year’s calendar, please contact Jim Chalmers on 07870 878907.  All entries must be with Jim by Thursday 16th October

Heritage Tree Project

Thursday 16th October - 10am to 1pm (Meet at the allotments, Hurstwood Road)

BWAG are working with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and, as part of their Heritage Tree Project, we are holding a study day.  We will measure, record and study the many spectacular big, old and gnarly trees of Bredhurst.  

Please bring your own drink and a packed lunch as well as sturdy shoes and all weather clothing. No booking necessary.  For information please contact - Kevyn Wightman, BWAG Trustee, Tel 07980-611069

Bredhurst Traditional Christmas Market

Sunday 30th November - 1pm - 6pm (Green Court, The Street, Bredhurst ME7 3JY). Admission £1 per person, U16’s Free.

BWAG were very pleased to be asked by The 139 Club (a Bredhurst based baby and children’s charity) to hold a joint event.  On Sunday 30th November, we are holding a Bredhurst Traditional Christmas Market in the garden of Green Court. 

There will be a wide selection of stalls selling quality hand made gifts, locally sourced food and drink, mulled wine, mince pies and say hello to Santa!  
All proceeds to The 139 Club and Bredhurst Woodland Action Group. 

For information call Jo Grant (The 139 Club) on 07549 634090 or Vanessa on 07813 785940 or email

The event is kindly supported by The Bell who are happy for you to park in their car park.

BWAG Carol Concert

Thursday 4th December - 7.30pm (St Peter's Church and Green Court, The Street, Bredhurst ME7 3JY). Tickets £7 per person, U16s free.

The Cantium Singers, a 50 strong choir from Rochester, will be performing at St Peter’s Church on Thursday, 4th December at 7.30pm.  

Guests are then invited to take a short walk to Green Court for mulled wine, mince pies and grand Christmas raffle.  There will also be a selection of stalls selling quality hand made gifts.

Tickets - £7 per person, u16s free (includes refreshments).  Tickets must be purchased in advance and are not available on the night. Tickets will be on sale from the end of October.  For further information, please call 07813 785940 (eve/weekends) or email

Friday, 10 October 2014

Business support for forestry businesses

The Forestry Commission has recently appointed a consortium of organisations to provide business support to forestry businesses across England.  

The objective of this support is to support forestry businesses in advance of the new grants within the new Rural Development Programme (RDP), set to start in 2015.

Mike and Max knew there must be an easier way!
A recent survey undertaken by the Kent Downs Woodfuel Pathfinder showed that the average age of forestry machinery currently in use in Kent is around 20 years. 

Survey respondents identified 32 items of forestry machinery required to either maintain or enhance business performance.  

The cost of this machinery was just under £1 million:

Kelvin's tractor had
seen better days
  • The average cost ranged from £7,250 (firewood processor) to £70,000 (harvester/processor).
  • The majority of the equipment was allocated for purchase within the next two to three years (and no later than 2020).
  • Forwarders and firewood processors were the most frequently cited items.
  • Most investment is required in forwarding machinery (£315,000).

Mark's great great great Grandfather's
chainsaw was a bit smoky
These results indicate that substantial investment in forestry machinery is still needed in Kent in order to maintain or develop businesses performance.

The consortium, known as FACE (Forestry Advisory Consortium England), will provide free one-to-one business support.

Details of future schemes under RDP are still taking shape.  

However, based on the previous programme grant support may be available for (but not limited) projects involving machinery, training, business support, venison processing and initiatives involving collaboration.
Guy's harvester was not helped by the foam leftover
from the last woodland rave

Experience from previous rounds of these European Rural Development Grants shows that it will be important for forestry businesses to have good quality “oven ready” applications in time for the official opening.

FCE are encouraging businesses to register their interest in the support as soon as possible. 

Please choose from the appropriate regional contact below:

  • East England: Corinne Meakins 01842 819089
  • East Midlands: David Bole 07712 750549
  • South East: Matthew Woodcock 01483 326210
  • South West: Mark Prior 01392 834260
  • West Midlands: Simon West 01905 532212
  • North West: Penny Oliver 01524 565805
  • Yorkshire & the North East 07831 216024

Further details can be found here.

Rick's two horsepower log extractor was very thirsty
In parallel to business support the Forestry Commission is also delivering a series of workshops between September 2014 and January 2015.

To register for these events please contact Amy or Jude on 07502 985 921 or email  More details can be found here.