Burning wood instead of oil and gas in Uttlesford

THIRTY landowners, farmers, woodland experts, businesspeople, airport operators and environmentalists met at Stansted Airport on Monday morning (March 12).

They were in at the start of a project to boost the use of locally grown wood instead of oil, gas and electricity to heat local homes and offices.

The meeting saw the launch of a report - The Potential for a Wood Fuel Business in Uttlesford - prepared for Uttlesford Futures by the University of Hertfordshire.

Cllr Alan Dean, chairman of Uttlesford Futures economic development group, said: “There is enough woodland in Uttlesford to heat about one in 10 homes not on a gas supply, or several large buildings like schools, colleges, council premises or office blocks. A viable business will need to harvest wood from adjoining districts.

“Managing woodland better will allow plants to flourish. Local jobs would be created and the district’s carbon footprint would be cut. Burning wood instead of oil and gas is only part of the answer for a better environment.

“It’s one of many steps that local business and people can take. It makes economic and environmental sense.”

Head of Planning and Sustainability for Stansted Airport, Dr Andy Jefferson, said: “Stansted Airport was delighted to host the launch of the Woodfuel Feasibility Study Report. Stansted has actively used sustainable woodchips in one of the largest biomass boilers in commercial operation in the UK since November 2008.

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“Doing this has helped us drive down gas consumption, and enabled our 2008 arrivals terminal extension to be carbon neutral. We look forward to working with Uttlesford and local wood suppliers going forward in this exciting area of renewable energy.”

The report was presented by Dr Richard Freeman, previously of the University of Hertfordshire.

Harry Bennett from The Deer Initiative warned of the need to control the rising deer population if local woodlands are not to be severely damaged and potential wood fuel supplies lost.