Devon charities chip in for a greener future
Paignton Zoo uses a state-of-the-art biomass boiler to heat its Crocodile Swamp exhibit. Now, the South Devon Biomass Company, part of Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, is supplying the woodchips to run it. The two charities say that using wood chips as fuel benefits woodland, wildlife and the local landscape, and is good for business.
Peter Morgan, Paignton Zoo environmental officer: “Wood chip when harvested from a sustainable source is be considered as a low carbon fuel which can help an organisation lower its CO2 emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels. We need to ensure that our current way of life does not hurt future generations. Generating energy from biomass is clean and green. Wood is sustainable because it is replaceable – we can’t create more gas, oil or coal but we can keep planting trees.
“It is important to support local green business initiatives. Often, wood fuel can be difficult or expensive to obtain. This scheme helps to resolve these problems, and will hopefully see more people investing in wood chip boilers, so reducing the consumption of expensive fossil fuels.”
Tom Langdon-Davies, sustainable projects officer at Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, who set up the South Devon Biomass Company, said: “We are delighted to be supplying the zoo from our purpose built wood chip processing site. The Trust has always encouraged environmental sustainability, and has the capacity to supply wood chip fuel to all the new boilers planned in and around The Bay.”
The woodchip travels from Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust’s depot at Occombe Farm, where their chipper and biomass store is located, less than three miles away from Paignton Zoo. The wood is seasoned for up to a year before being chipped into the storage barn at Occombe, which has the capacity to supply up to fifty boilers, processing around 5,000 tonnes of wood per year – 20 times the amount used by Crocodile Swamp.
Adrian Board, head of maintenance & construction at Paignton Zoo, said: “The quality of these wood chips is really good, with a low moisture content. Higher quality fuel produces more heat from the same size load. Woodchip works out at around 26.8% cheaper than mains gas and 75% cheaper than electricity per kilowatt hour.”
Justin Cox, operations manager at Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust said “This is a great example of the Trust grasping a business opportunity using its existing skills and resources. Currently, all of the timber we supply as chip is sourced from Devon, as time goes on a proportion will be sourced, through careful conservation management, from woodlands in Torbay. The profit generated from that timber, having been processed into chip, allows the Trust to invest in improving its woodlands for both people and wildlife.”
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust are registered charities. For more information about Paignton Zoo visit www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 0844 474 2222. For more information about the Trust visit www.countryside-trust.org.uk or ring 01803 606035.