Trees re­cy­cled for win­ter fuel

Dumfries & Galloway Standard - - DISTRICT NEWS - STU­ART MCFAR­LANE

A new project will re­cy­cle prob­lem trees into win­ter fuel to heat the homes of vulnerable older peo­ple in the re­gion.

Elec­tric­ity dis­trib­u­tor SP En­ergy Net­works is work­ing along­side the Win­ter Warm for Older Peo­ple scheme – run by The Hub in Dum­fries – to tackle fuel poverty by felling trees grow­ing too close to elec­tric­ity tow­ers and turn­ing them into logs and kin­dling.

Dur­ing se­vere weather, fallen trees can be one of the main causes of power cuts and while branches and fo­liage are main­tained, some trees need to be cut down to re­duce the risk of dis­rup­tion. The tree cut­tings will then be chopped and bagged by in­di­vid­u­als serv­ing com­mu­nity pay­back orders be­fore they are de­liv­ered free to those in fuel poverty across the cold win­ter months.

Iain Steele, SP En­ergy Net­works district man­ager, said: “Man­ag­ing trees next to power lines is one of the most im­por­tant main­te­nance pro­grammes we de­liver to keep the lights on. It means that dur­ing se­vere win­ter storms we can re­duce the num­ber of prop­er­ties af­fected by power cuts and re­duce the time to re­con­nect those who do.

“I’m de­lighted we’re able to sup­port the Win­ter Warm for Older Peo­ple Project. We would nor­mally re­cy­cle trees to pro­duce wood­chip for land­scap­ing but it’s fan­tas­tic to see it be­ing put to bet­ter use as a free fuel source for those who need it most, par­tic­u­larly at this time of year.”

Fuel poverty is a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for the re­gion, with a Scot­tish Govern­ment re­port high­light­ing that Dum­fries and Gal­loway has among the high­est num­bers strug­gling to heat them­selves in the coun­try.

It found that 34 per cent of prop­er­ties didn’t have any ac­cess to mains gas and are re­liant on more ex­pen­sive oil or solid fuel heat­ing – a rate which is dou­ble the na­tional av­er­age.

Dawn McGe­orge from the Win­ter Warm for Older Peo­ple Project said: “The logs and kin­dling are very help­ful for older peo­ple who can’t af­ford to heat their homes through­out the win­ter months.

“We’re in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for SP En­ergy Net­works’ con­tri­bu­tion to the ini­tia­tive which al­lows us to con­tinue supporting those in the com­mu­nity who oth­er­wise would strug­gle to heat their homes each win­ter.”

To be eligible, householders need to be over 60 years of age, not in paid work and in re­ceipt of a means-tested ben­e­fit or with other ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances such as a long-term med­i­cal con­di­tion.

De­liv­er­ies will be made un­til March and the char­ity aims to make as many as pos­si­ble, de­pen­dent on the sup­ply of do­nated wood and any­one in­ter­ested in the project can con­tact The Hub on 01387 269161.

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