Trees recycled for winter fuel
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.