Charcoal burner ‘Betty’ gets eco-friendly BBQs sizzling

Could a new charcoal-burner in the Broads National Park help people switch to a more eco-friendly barbeque?

Thanks to a charcoal burner known affectionately as ‘Betty’, you can now buy some of the world’s most sustainable charcoal, produced right here in the Broads and for sale at Whitlingham Country Park Visitor Centre.Charcoal bags

Summer is the best time to hit the garden with friends and family for the traditional British barbeque. However, the rising popularity of alfresco dining could be fuelling deforestation and climate change. In 2018 alone Britain imported nearly 90,000 tonnes of charcoal and your sizzling sausages may have been cooked on charcoal from illegally harvested wood in tropical-forests.  

‘Betty’ the biochar burner runs on wood from conservation work in and around the Broads National Park and is funded by the EU Interreg project, CANAPE.

Senior Ecologist for the Broads Authority, Andrea Kelly, is keen to encourage people to buy British charcoal that is more eco-friendly than imported charcoal used in most barbeques. Andrea said:

“Buying charcoal made from 100% local wood has so many positive environmental benefits. Not only are you helping rural businesses, the wood Betty uses is a product of conservation work that will let in light for flowers and plants; helping local wildlife including insects such as the swallowtail butterfly, birds and small mammals to flourish.” Betty in action

Food cooked on Betty’s biochar charcoal tastes better because it contains none of the chemicals of traditional charcoal. It’s easy to light with just paper, so no need for firelighters, is ready to cook in 10 - 15 minutes and leaves ash which can be used for compost in gardens.

Andrea hopes that a local market for Betty’s charcoal could grow and generate other income streams for people who manage our woodlands.

She added, “There are already five businesses trained and looking into producing sustainable charcoal. With many more interested, we hope this will grow, as local people catch on to the multiple benefits of high-quality charcoal that helps manage our landscape.”

Friday 2 August 2019