30 October 1998

Thwarted by red tape

WILTS willow grower Rupert Burr already has 34ha (85 acres) of willows ready for fuelling a power station – unfortunately too far from the ARBRE plant.

Mr Burr is annoyed that his pioneering but relatively small-scale energy production efforts on his 156ha (385 acre) Roves Farm, Swindon, have not yet borne fruit because of official bureaucracy. His main potential outlet, a proposed NFFO3 power plant at nearby Cricklade, has not yet materialised. "That is partly because it is still trying to source technology considered suitable by the authorities."

Now even his plans to use the coppice wood for heating the farms visitor centre have been thwarted because the local council has imposed severe restrictions on the venture because of alleged traffic problems.

Twelve different varieties, the first planted in April 1993, have been used to reduce disease risks.

"Its very frustrating because I have got 40 acres ready for harvest and nowhere for it to go. Small-scale gasification has never had the support it deserves. The ARBRE project got an £8m Thermie grant which works out at £1000/kW. If I had had that my contract price under NFFO3 would have been lower than theirs." &#42