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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Firewood business to spark five new jobs

A bid to create a new firewood supply business near Gloucester would create up to five new jobs, if planners agree on the greenfield project.

And the proposal now before Stroud District Council may be timely: given an estimated 15% of homes in Britain not hooked up to gas, the demand for logs to feed woodburners this winter is reported to have led to a further price surge on domestic deliveries after the market's marked hike in 2023.

According to analysis from UK timber operator Certainly Wood, demand for firewood was very strong through last winter and most producers were completely out of raw material stock by January "and so pretty much hand to mouth through the spring which led to lead times on firewood deliveries".

One Gloucestershire log supplier is currently advising customers of a three-week waiting list for delivery, while some suppliers quote up to £149 for half a cubic metre.

Certainly Wood added: "Prices in some cases shot up even further with some producers paying a further 20-30% in order to secure supplies. In March/April we experienced something we had never had before, with very little timber anywhere as the wet spring meant very little felling and extraction could take place." The trading conditions then led to "a huge shortage in firewood raw material and an element of surprise and panic across the industry at a time when prices tend to drop back during the summer as supply increases."

Mr and Mrs Kahkonen, who live at Bowden Hall Farm, Upton St Leonards, and who have experience running a transport and recycling business near Stroud, have asked SDC to approve their plan to create the log production facility on a 1.25-acre portion of land off Haywicks Lane, close to the village of Elmore.

Having researched alternative locations, Slad-based Howard Cole Town and Country Planning told planners they are hopeful that the change of use for the site, which is 200 metres from the nearest residence and close to a cattery and kennel, will be approved so that they can proceed with a plan for local sourcing of firewood from farms across the county.

Gathered wood, which would be collected by tractor and trailer, would subsequently be prepared on site, using a Hakke Pilke Raven 33 log processor, with the proposed business having a plan in place to supply Asher Forestry from Edgeworth, Stroud and Valley Forestry Ltd, from Horsley, near Nailsworth.

In a Design and Access statement, Howard Cole told the council that the site has two access points and is largely bounded by hedgerows. As part of the application, a new access is proposed along with a cladded agricultural barn.

The statement added: "The proposed building is a three-bay barn of approximately 170m2 with 5m to eaves and a 12.5 degree roof pitch. One bay will be open, and the others will have roller shutter doors.

"Autumn and winter will be the busy time of year with deliveries made by 3.5 and 7.5 ton vehicles, while "timber will be dried for six months with the business joining The Woodsure Association (monitors of quality and moisture content of logs)."

An additional 375 sq m of hardstanding is also requested.

According to Stroud-based Love Your Stove, the firewood sector in Gloucestershire continues to see a boom.

Kelly Scrivens, retail manager, told that the traditionally seasonal nature of installation was giving way to a more year-round pattern, while log-buying customers had become more wary of wait times for delivieries in autumn and winter - and were consequently planning further ahead.

She said: "The business has particularly changed with the increased economy of the latest generation of woodburners – you can now run a woodburner on two to three logs per hour and rise in the cost of a log delivery, which has been inevitable because of the significant energy bills involved in transport and kiln drying, people are still switched on to this route to heating as an effective way to cut their gas and electricity bills."

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