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The Timber Standards for Heat and Electricity

At the start of February the DECC published the Timber Standards for Heat and Electricity. The Timber Standard, as it is referred to, is based upon the same set of principles as set under the UK Timber Procurement Policy (UK-TPP) for the public sector. The long-term goal is to fully align with the UK-TPP assessment protocols as well as being fully aligned with the set of sustainability principles. 

The Standard confirms the policy on sustainable forest management criteria that was set out in the February 2013 Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Government response to ‘Providing Certainty, Improving Performance’ with the intention to bring in biomass sustainability criteria, including land criteria, for the RHI. It also confirms the August 2013 Government response to the Renewables Obligation Biomass Sustainability Consultation; which included the decision to bring in sustainable forest management criteria for the use of feedstocks that are virgin wood or made from virgin wood from April 2014 under the Renewables Obligation (RO).

There are two approaches to comply with the Standard. The first is through the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) schemes; woodfuel certified by an approved scheme such as these will be considered as meeting the Standard. The second approach is to gather credible evidence covering a full set of ten sustainability principles. A regional approach can be used for evidence gathering. This recognises that in the short-term, the use of wood residues and thinnings from forests that are not yet certified, including from smaller, family-owned woodlands will be an important source of fuel for bioenergy.

The interesting point to note from this is the choice of the two routes. In particular, implementation of the bespoke route will be crucial. If it is difficult to demonstrate compliance through the bespoke route it provides a huge boost to certified forests. Conversely, if it is easy to demonstrate compliance through the bespoke route this could have a negative impact on well-established schemes such as FSC.

The DECC intends to publish draft guidance notes this spring and have also said they are keen to involve stakeholders in the development of these underpinning documents. This will give stakeholders the chance to comment on the practical details for meeting the Standard before these notes are finalised. We will update you with more details of this through this blog.

Ironically, current chart single ‘Timber’ is included on an album titled ‘Global Warming: Meltdown’; but does the creator of the album international rap star ‘Pitbull’ understand the significance?