Biomass Harvesting Trials


Background

A-one+ takes pride in its corporate social responsibility and is always seeking to provide sustainable solutions to minimise environmental impact both in the services we deliver and in our work place behaviours.

Our integrated working delivery group responsible for sustainable solutions tasks itself with sourcing, testing and implementing a range of initiatives to address; carbon footprint reduction, minimal waste to landfill, increased use of recycling and reduced energy consumption.

Solution

One particular area we were keen to learn more about was biomass harvesting. Highways England own woodland plots adjacent to the strategic road network which offer possible opportunities for this method to be explored.

The project team identified 150 woodland plots larger than one hectare in size as possible sites to investigate for the trial. These sites were calculated to yield 18,000 tonnes of biomass.

Arrangements of the project were carefully considered because tree felling and trunk road maintenance is not usually carried out at the same time. Felled timber was extracted to the verge for separation into firewood or chipping timber. A temporary hard standing was created in the verge where a whole tree chipper was placed enabling the team to chip every tree part directly into the wagon, creating a compact site.

Key statistics

  • 1400 tonnes of woodchip harvested
  • 216 tonnes of firewood harvested
  • 194,000m2 area of woodland thinned
  • £540,000 approximate value of biomass in whole network area

The wood chip will provide sustainable low carbon fuel for heat production. In addition the cleared area will have a positive impact on flora and fauna and create canopy gaps for sheltered woodland ground and edges while reducing fossil fuel dependency.