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Call for clarity on biomass diseased wood use

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Biomass fuel producer Edge Renewables is calling on the government to clarify restrictions on using infected wood, amid increased efforts to fight diseases such as Ash Dieback.

As areas of infected woodland are identified and quarantine measures taken by the Forestry Commission, an increasing amount of timber is becoming available for potential commercial use.

Simon Lloyd-Jones, director of Edge Renewables Ltd, said: “Spurred on by a combination of high energy prices and the government’s RHI,  biomass heating is becoming ever-more popular and is set to help the UK reach its legally-binding targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a producer of renewable wood-chip fuel that uses timber from sustainably-managed sources, it’s unclear within our sector as to the level of restrictions that are, or may be put into place to avoid the further spread of the diseases by transportation and processing of the timber into wood chip.

“I appreciate that there’s obvious biosecurity measures that need to be made whilst leaving an infected area of woodland – such as disinfecting footwear, tools and vehicles, but if we’re transporting infected timber and processing it alongside normal, healthy wood, then are we leaving ourselves open to restrictive quarantine measures?”

He added: “The growing wood fuel sector needs a lot more clarity from government and its agencies in order to ensure that it can help prevent the further spread of disease, whilst putting the timber to use in helping lower carbon emissions from the heating sector.”