Broads Authority seeks landowners to take part in new business initiative

The Broads Authority is reaching out to landowners, contractors, conservation organisations and volunteer groups to offer them the chance to take part in an exciting new project to create charcoal out of the waste products on their land.

The initiative is being pioneered by the Broads Authority as part of their role as lead partner of CANAPE (Creating A New Approach to Peatland Ecosystems), a match funded project which will give the Broads Authority over 500,000 euros from the European Regional Development Fund to research new ways of managing peatland ecosystems to the benefit of the environment.  

Potential trials will begin in May 2019 and the Authority will be looking to volunteers to have a go at turning their ‘biomass’ which could be any unwanted natural material, such as forestry or fen waste, into charcoal via the use of a transportable kiln. If interest in using the kiln is sufficient the Broads Authority will make the purchase and begin trials with the interested parties.

Exeter charcoal copyright Robin Rawle Carbon Compost

The type of kiln which would be used is known as a ‘carbon composter’. It produces charcoal through the burning of biomass in reduced oxygen conditions. Two products are created by the use of the kiln, charcoal for cooking or heating and fine biochar which improves soils. It is hoped that parties local to the Broads National Park area will be willing to engage with the new initiative and give feedback as to the results of their time operating the kiln.

Participants in the kiln trial will enjoy a number of benefits as a result of their involvement, should interest in the scheme be high enough. The Broads Authority will provide free training in how to use the equipment and support will be provided for marketing and retailing the charcoal and char products which are produced. All profits from the sale of these will be returned to the parties involved in the initiative (aside from a 20% hiring fee for the use of the kiln).

Senior Ecologist to the Broads Authority, Andrea Kelly said,

“This initiative is aimed at managing our landscapes and growing small rural enterprise around the Broads National Park. The addition of biochar to soil is positive for growers. Biochar increases crop yield and improves water retention and produces a more fertile soil PH. It also helps to suppress greenhouse gases, decreasing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. We really hope that landowners and organisations alike will be willing to get involved with our research and will hopefully come away with an additional income source as a result of recycling their waste products.”

If you’re interested in participating in the potential trial or would like to receive further information regarding the project, please contact the following Broads Authority Officers:

Broads Authority Senior Ecologist, Andrea Kelly: andrea.kelly@broads-authority.gov.uk / 01603 756015

Biochar Project Member, Abigail Alford: abigail.alford@broads-authority.gov.uk / 01603 756082

Thursday 16 August 2018