District council’s wood energy plans start to warm up

Plans by East Hampshire District Council to create a series of wood burning energy centres have taken a step forward following a fact-finding trip to a wood chip supplier.

The Council’s Portfolio Holder for the environment, Cllr Adam Carew and officers recently visited LC Energy in Lasham, which harvests, chips and supplies fuel to businesses, including Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

The visit was part of the local authority’s investigation into wood burning technology as part of a plan to cut carbon emissions and fuel costs.

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

“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,” said Cllr Carew. 

“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,” he added.

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.”

Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues