Burning wood in the countryside

‘…a gloriously short carbon loop.’

“And anyway, can they criticise us peasants when they’ve been subsidising huge freighter loads of wood pellets being brought across the Atlantic – from the Eastern US, Brazil, and now we hear, British Columbia – to burn in the huge Drax power station? I’m sure it was just a coincidence that a Drax boss sat on the ‘Climate Change Committee’ for years…”

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There has been a lot of concern about how rural areas will be able to heat themselves:

Rural groups condemn miserly £100 handout for heating oil – Farmers Weekly

Fuel for today, fuel for the future – a fair transition to net zero for rural communities – Rural Services Network

Traditionally, there has been some reliance on wood-burning – and last winter, Western Morning News commentator and Dartmoor farmer Anton Coaker was scathing about calls to reduce this:

“I strongly suspect that what comes out of a jet plane, or a monster cargo ship, should probably be of rather more concern.”

The debate around woodburners – Vision Group for Sidmouth

As there are not exactly many alternatives in the middle of nowhere:

Alternatives to gas heating – Vision Group for Sidmouth

But is still exercises some debate:

How smokeless are wood-burning stoves? – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Anton Coaker’s column in the WMN has more to say on the subject:

As evenings cool, and evenings draw in, I’ve been engaging in that most primeval bit of human behaviour… I’ve been lighting a fire at night.

There’s nothing new in this for me… burning a few sticks to warm the house has been a part of seasonal life forever. The difference this year is that a few more people have decided it might be a good idea. Given there’s some rumour that energy bills might be going up, you wouldn’t think it’d be any kind of surprise. Indeed, I was talking to a pal who makes and trades a lot of log burners a few weeks ago, and he confirmed what any clot could’ve guessed… demand is through the roof, and there’s a waiting list. His firm also sell a lot of ‘kiln dried’ logs, which he’s been importing from somewhere distant. My previous gentle inquiries regarding just how the kilns are powered have met with flustered evasion. I smelled a bit of a rodent in artificially drying firewood, and then trucking it 1200 miles… but what do I know? Anyway, you can probably surmise for yourself what’s happened now. Yes, with the price of gas, oil and electricity having leapt upward, he’s found these imports have rocketed in price – which rather suggests these ‘kilns’ weren’t running on fresh air. He’s now looking for a more local supply…  

One of the problems with burning wood – and it’s a gloriously short carbon loop, so that needn’t be an issue – is the particulate pollution. Nasty little bits in the smoke to you and me. How government are going to deal with the surge in this I’ve no idea. It’ll be a tough sell this winter telling people they have to stop lighting the fire, and turn up the electric heater to keep warm.

And anyway, can they criticise us peasants when they’ve been subsidising huge freighter loads of wood pellets being brought across the Atlantic – from the Eastern US, Brazil, and now we hear, British Columbia – to burn in the huge Drax power station? I’m sure it was just a coincidence that a Drax boss sat on the ‘Climate Change Committee’ for years…

The Anton Coaker column thread | Page 7 | The Farming Forum

Western Morning News –

   
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