After looking into registering Natural England on the biomass suppliers list (BSL) on-line directly, I encountered some problems, so I asked for advice through the Network. The team put me in touch with Ben, Commercial and Leisure Manager at Thoresby Estate, who was familiar with the registration process and was very helpful and encouraging.
We’ve now got three accreditations – one for woodchip, one for firewood and one for briquettes, which we plan to create out of wetland-grown material. Being on the suppliers list will enable us to obtain a better market price for the products, and mean they will qualify for use with grant-aided renewable heat incentive installations. However much you read information online, it’s really useful to talk to people who’ve already done it!
Connections made through the Network have helped speed the process along, provided knowledge and given us the confidence to have a go. If other organisations are doing something successfully it gives you and your employers the confidence to know it’s worth pursuing. It’s also great to get reciprocal advice from compatible organisations to find out how we can collaborate.
I’m in touch with the RSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust about the conversion of wetland material into briquettes, and attended a conference on the topic which I heard about through the Network. There may be the possibility of teaming up with RSPB to bring in contractors, which will save on costs.
Natural England is also looking at installing solar PV at some of our sites, and we’ve gained useful contacts through the Network on this front too. Practitioners from Tate Modern and RSPB have offered advice based on their own experience. We’ll be looking at our sites and finding out if we can make a case to invest. I’ll undoubtedly be calling on the connections made through the Network for future advice as the projects get up and running.