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Identifying and engaging with the emerging biomass industry to secure benefits for the natural heritage Sharing Good Practice, Battleby Centre, 3 November.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying and engaging with the emerging biomass industry to secure benefits for the natural heritage Sharing Good Practice, Battleby Centre, 3 November."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying and engaging with the emerging biomass industry to secure benefits for the natural heritage Sharing Good Practice, Battleby Centre, 3 November Neil Harrison Project Director, Northwoods

2 RDI - a forestry and rural sector project hosting and management company Our customers include: Forestry Commission Scotland Forestry Commission England Natural England North East Red Meat Task Group Confederation of Forest Industries Defra WWF Northumberland, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks Scottish Enterprise UN Global Fire Monitoring Centre Commission for Rural Communities Highlands and Island Enterprise Lantra One NorthEast Nidderdale, North Pennines, Northumberland Coast & Forest of Bowland AONB’s ODPM

3 Steering Group Commercial Contracts Project Delivery Company Structure

4 Northwoods – Role and Responsibilities Supports the tree and timber sector of North East England with information and training on: Works to a Steering Group of 8 public sector bodies & 1 trade association. health and safety; business best practice; planning issues; pest management and protection; legislation and regulation; wildfire management and control; emerging & niche markets; technology transfer; environmental best practice; waste disposal; insurance & employment issues; recruitment; technical skills; grant aid and information technology. Has assisted 500+ businesses & individuals in 4 years with training, business expansion, new machinery, new ways of working, IAG, diversification and grant aid.

5 ConFor report by CEBR cites 16,723 additional jobs could be created in the woodfuel supply chain - 50% increase on employment levels in 1999 FC survey. SDC report “Woodfuel for Warmth” cites 5 to 10 times more jobs per MW installed than other renewable technology. Woodfuel - Why Bother? NE England - close to 100% of FE resource committed to market, only 43% of private sector sustainable annual yield comes to market. 57% of woodland is unmanaged or undermanaged. Woodfuel is 96% “carbon neutral”.

6 Is Forestry Ready? Forestry as an industry is failing to attract new entrants – e.g. Advanced Apprenticeship in Trees and Timber abandoned by Lantra Awards a fortnight ago. Average age of forestry workers is somewhere between 49 and 54. Applicants for diploma and BSc courses almost halved between 1996 and 2004 when they dipped below 100. There is a huge raft of legislation & regulation affecting the sector directly. Sector economics are often marginal at best, with few companies able to invest in training, new equipment or ways of working.

7 Working with public authorities Public sector has poor record of engaging directly with SME’s in the sector, and in stead relies on initiatives such as Northwoods to do this work for them. information taxation legislation & regulation In relation to biodiversity alone there could be as many as 6 public sector bodies involved with the business: Forestry CommissionNatural England Environment AgencyDefra Local AuthorityNational Park or AONB

8 Environmental Awareness within the Sector Majority of contractor base has little or no formal training in environmental matters. Most have an affinity with the environment, but will only work with the environment in mind when the client has stipulated this in the contract, and even then there are problems. There are many barriers to engaging with contractors and other businesses in the supply chain when training or information is perceived to be of little or no commercial value.

9 In Summary Declining interest in forestry as a career at either technical or professional grades. Ageing workforce, but huge opportunities to create jobs in rural economy. Poor record of engagement with forestry sector – lack of trust & understanding. Hand-to-mouth nature of most forest enterprises. Major problems for enterprises accessing private finance or public grants. Declining interest in forestry as a career at either technical or professional grades. Big hits are an easy route to hitting targets, but not necessarily the best for the rural economy. Low level of environmental awareness in the sector.

10 Working through Northwoods Benefits of public sector working through an NGO are: able to interact with the sector at arms length; overcomes many of the trust issues which are a barrier to engagement; cost effective – no high salaries or “jobs for life” to carry; NGO’s are able to engage more closely with businesses without conflicts of interest becoming an issue; NGO staff are more flexible and “generalist”, public bodies have a tendency towards hierarchical bureaucracy & rafts of specialist posts.

11 How can (and do) we help? Business diagnostic/support and free grant application writing service; Formation of and funding secured for woodfuel producer groups - co-ordinating access for SME’s to emerging markets, facilitating standards, working towards certification (FSC) and exploring regional branding; Action-research, creating business models to encourage diversification into higher value markets; Lobbying for grant support programmes at national and regional level; Translating government-speak into English & making information relevant and accessible to those working in the sector.

12 Providing Training Initial development was funded by Forestry Commission, Learning and Skills Council Northumberland and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Was written and delivered by Northwoods and industry experts. Ignite was the first ever vocational qualification in renewable energy & remains the only accredited woodfuel training course in the UK. Currently running across Scotland until December 2006.

13 Promoting Co-operative Working

14 NEWFuels – In Operation Customer Enquiry Invitation to Tender for Supply Issued to Membership Quotes Returned Delivery Commences Contract Awarded Handholding & Educating Assistance in Contract Preparation Translation & Reassurance Handholding & Educating Information & Guidance Training Quality Control Timber Sourcing Billing Contract Prep. Supply guarantee Etc, etc, etc… Troubleshooting For Customers For Members

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