13th August 2012
The scope for the Highlands to become a leading player in the European woodfuel sector was highlighted at a major gathering of industry figures in Strathspey.
Almost 50 delegates from across the sector met for the second gathering of the Highlands and Islands Woodfuel forum in the Duke of Gordon Hotel in Kingussie, which is itself heated by a biomass boiler.
Among the topics under discussions were the Renewable Heat Incentive, a Government payback scheme to encourage people to install renewable heating systems, woodfuel supply and demand and excessive red tape, which many see as major factor hampering the growth of the industry.
A range of people, including foresters, estate managers, woodfuel suppliers and installation businesses took part in the seminar, organised by charity Highland Birchwoods with funding from the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA).
Participants were unanimously in favour of working more closely together to help build a dynamic and thriving woodfuel industry in the Highlands.
Event chair Ian Ross hailed the meeting a great success, saying now it had been firmly established, the Highlands and Islands Woodfuel Group would provide a vital platform for collaboration.
“This is a great example of people from the sector getting together to move things forward. It’s just the second meeting of the group and it’s heartening to see such a broad range of people from all sections of the industry coming along,” he said.
“I think this clearly show the growing interest in woodfuel and demonstrates the high level of interest and increasing uptake of woodfuel across the Highlands.”
Will Boyd-Wallis, the CNPA’s land and conservation programme manager added: “This event underlines further the massive opportunities for woodfuel in the Cairngorms National Park.
“A strong, local woodfuel industry has the potential to fit with all four aims of the National Park and is in the interests of everyone in the area.
“In order for more people to switch to using wood to heat their homes and businesses we need to ensure the future supply of wood, so growing demand can be met. At the same time this can deliver all the many other environmental and economic benefits that forests bring.
“It’s been great having this event in a major hotel in the area that is heated by woodchips, and it was very interesting to be able to see that in action and hear how it works during a tour of the installation.”