Monday, 15 June 2015

New guidance on Ash dieback in SSSI woodland

Natural England has released new guidance on Ash dieback.  

The guidance is specifically designed for SSSI woodland (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and focuses on a set of commonly asked questions:
  • Will all my ash trees die? 
  • Should diseased trees be felled? 
  • Should I fell healthy trees now? 
  • How can I manage the structure of my wood? 
  • Should ash coppice or pollards be cut? 
  • How will the designated features be affected? 
  • How should replacement trees be established? 
  • What replacement species can be used? 
  • What should I do about sycamore? 
  • Will my wood be classed as “unfavourable”?

Over half of the woodland and wood-pasture SSSIs in England contain significant amounts of ash. As nationally important areas for the conservation of biological diversity, it is vital that the impact of ash dieback disease on the SSSI ‘features of interest’ is managed to reduce negative effects where this is possible. 

Whilst various suggestions are made in the guidance Natural England points out that there is only limited experience of implementing many of these in the UK ash dieback scenario. Therefore there is a need to trial different management strategies, monitor their effectiveness, and continue to share practical experience.

It is also very important that this guidance, and the of the Forestry Commission, is tailored to the specific conditions on each site, including: 

  • the current proportion of ash and other trees and shrubs present
  • the woodland structure
  • existing issues and challenges acting on the wood
  • its context in the surrounding landscape
  • the SSSI features of interest
  • the owner’s objectives
  • public access and safety
The advice has been summarised in the table below.  The full document can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

RHI - tariff changes for biomass boilers announced

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced changes to the RHI tariffs for biomass in both the domestic and non-domestic schemes.

Domestic RHI

DECC announced on 29 May 2015 that the degression ‘super trigger’ for domestic biomass had been passed. 

This means that the current biomass tariff of 8.93p per kilowatt hour will be reduced by 20% to 7.14p per kilowatt hour for all new applications made from 1 July 2015.  The new tariff table is shown below.

To calculate the impact of this change simply multiply the tariff by the kWh total for space heating and hot water on your EPC (e.g. 15,000 kWh x 0.0893 = £1,339 per year for seven years).

The tariffs for domestic air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and solar thermal are not affected by the 1 July 2015 degression.  Legacy applicants are not affected by degression.

Non-Domestic (Commercial) RHI

DECC has also announced a 25% reduction to the small commercial biomass tariff for the quarterly period starting on 1 July 2015.

This is a fairly significant reduction that will affect the economics of schemes up to 199 kW - particularly those involving wood pellets and the replacement (partial or full) of mains gas.

Nevertheless, a subsidy is still a subsidy and 4.4 p/kWh is still a positive contribution.

The risk with this degression is that larger boilers will be installed to gain the 'medium' tariff.  Whilst tempting this is likely to be a false economy as an over-sized boiler will be used less and is likely to have worse overall efficiency (it may well cost more as well).

Our advice would be to size correctly and be satisfied that a subsidy is still available.

If your sub-200 kW project is nearing completion then you have only a few weeks left to commission and apply in order to gain the current tariff (5.87 p/kWh).

More details can be found on the Ofgem website.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Countryside Stewardship 2015 - Forestry Commission events

Due to be launched this summer, Countryside Stewardship will contribute around £900 million to land managers to help them improve and protect the environment. 

It will support the forestry sector by creating new woodlands, improving existing woodlands and responding to tree health issues.

The Forestry Commission will host a series of events for foresters, landowners and agents to provide a comprehensive overview of the scheme and its woodland elements as well as practical advice on how to apply.

Two events are planned for the south east and London.  To book a place please register by 12 June 2015 using the local email address below. 

There are limited spaces available at each event and so we recommend you contact us as soon as possible to reserve your place.

Kent - Westerham

Thursday 25 June, 10.00 – 14.00 @ Westerham Hall, Westerham

Berkshire - Grazeley

Friday 26 June, 10.00 – 14.00 @ Grazeley Village Hall, Grazeley