Plans to create wood burning energy centres in the district are hotting up as East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) went on a fact-finding trip to a wood chip supplier. The visit was part of the council’s investigation into wood burning technology as part of a plan to cut carbon emissions and fuel costs.

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Cllr Adam Carew, EHDC’s Portfolio Holder for the environment, and officers visited LC Energy in Lasham, a ‘wood fuel hub’ which harvests, chips and supplies fuel to businesses, including Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

EHDC is considering wood burning energy centres to heat parts of Whitehill & Bordon, Alton and Penns Place, in Petersfield.

The systems can be used to heat a number of adjacent buildings and are ideal for heating leisure centres and other buildings that require a lot of heat.

During the visit the council learned how the industry operates, including the importance of a stable supply of fuel and the logistical difficulties of storing and transporting woodchip.

Cllr Carew said: “We are really excited about the potential of low carbon wood fuel production at EHDC and are already in discussions with the M3 Enterprise Local Enterprise Partnership as how best we can take this forward. I am very grateful to Mark Lebus of LC Energy for showing us his wood fuel and chipping operation at Lasham. It is amazing to think wood from right here in East Hampshire supplies Heathrow Airport’s powerful woodchip boilers.

“There is huge growth of interest in commercial wood fuel and a massive surge in demand for domestic wood stoves and traditional log fires. With its woodlands, heaths and forestry East Hampshire and the Whitehill and Bordon area in particular is uniquely placed to meet this demand and our hope is to link the two together.

“We have plenty of landowners and conservation organisations keen to get rid of their surplus wood, whether it is arisings from forestry, wood or heathland management. There are also numerous small woods which would benefit from getting back into sustainable woodland management.

“Wood is a renewable resource, sustainable management not only helps reduce carbon but it also has a very positive knock-on effect to wildlife biodiversity.

“We are very keen to discuss commercial and environmental possibilities with conservation organisations, landowners, colleges and green business like Mark’s.”

Mark Lebus, of LC Energy, said: “We were delighted to show Cllr Carew around our site at Lasham and demonstrate the benefits and challenges of operating a well-run wood fuel hub.

“It is clear East Hampshire District Council is dedicated and passionate about reducing its carbon emissions and encouraging energy efficiency in their own practices and in others.”

EHDC looks to the future with wood-fuelled energy