Former Miner Brimming With Green Energy For Woodfuel

Dave Sefton – Silvapower

One thing Dave Sefton has never been short of is energy!

When the 50 year old from Barnsley left school it was straight down the local pit as a “ripper”, building tunnels behind the cutting machines which eked away at the coal face.

When the industry contracted he was made redundant and found himself making charcoal at Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, before finally helping to set up a wood chip company in 2004 to fuel a green revolution in South Yorkshire.

Back then local councils and public bodies wanted to install biomass heating installations,  but were unable to get past the first base because there was no fuel supply infrastructure in place to get timber from the woods and into a suitable form for burning.

Despite this the Forestry Commission said that there was massive scope to develop the sector in South Yorkshire, with its long history of using solid fuels like coal and the amount of local woodland which could be brought into management.

So Silvapower was set up to plug the supply gap with the help of the South Yorkshire Forest Partnership, Sheffield City Council, Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Investment Fund.

Eight years later the company has gone from strength-to-strength and is chalking up new milestones.  Next year it is set to produce 35,000 cubic metres of wood chip to meet rising demand.

“I didn’t intend it that way, but my whole career has been supplying fuel of one kind or another, finally ending up with the oldest fuel of the lot, wood,” said Dave, who was a collier at Barnsley Main and Barrow coal mines.  “More local supplies are needed, but timber is coming on stream.  To produce 35,000 cubic metres of wood chips, we need 10,000 tonnes of timber, which translates into about 25,000 trees. We want to talk to local woodland owners and estates about purchasing timber – we always need more of it and want to build long term relationships. Wood is a growth industry and unlike coal we can keep on growing the stuff. It’s really exciting to be involved in something like this, which is growing fast and also does good for the world”

The Forestry Commission has revealed that 56 wood fuel installations have been installed in South Yorkshire as the move towards more eco-friendly energy generation gathers pace.

Long term oil and gas price increases and climate change mean that experts have dubbed it as one of the fuels of the future.  Such is the local potential that South Yorkshire was chosen for a 200,000 Euro investment under an EU project called Activating Forest Owners to develop the sector and create jobs.

Crispin Thorn, Forestry Commission Area Director for Yorkshire and the North East, said:

“Under-management of our woods has been recognised as a lost opportunity for woodland owners for years.  But there are encouraging signs that owners are putting their woods back to work. Some of the timber being used by Silvapower and other local wood fuel suppliers is coming from places like Greno Woods, near Sheffield, and from woods owned by the Fitzwilliam Estate, near the Strines, west of Bradfield.  Sustainable woodland management where trees are felled and replaced is good for conservation and also taps an increasingly valuable and renewable asset for South Yorkshire. It’s great to see businesses developing and expanding in order to take up this growing opportunity.”

Silvapower was taken over by Forest Fuels last year, but Dave stayed on as Yard Foreman at the main depot in Brierley, near Barnsley, where £1m has been invested in storage facilities, processing machinery and delivery equipment.  Customers include all four councils in South Yorkshire and local schools.

Media calls: Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038

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Barnsley Man Logs On To A Roaring Business Idea

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

When Robert Lodge installed a log burning stove in his farmhouse near Tankersley, Barnsley, he could hardly imagine what would happen next.

First the local pub and then other locals asked him to help them find hard to source timber for their own new stoves and fires.

So adept did he become, that an inkling of an idea began to form to diversify his farm business. Five years later, having spent £30,000 on timber processing machinery, 90% of his time is spent on his new timber-based business, rather than in the fields of his 1,000 acre family farm.

And Robert’s order book is bulging.

With a presence on Ebay and Facebook, he’s taken to cyberspace to connect with the soaring number of customers wanting to come home to a real fire.

Robert, 48, explained:

“I never had any intentions of getting into the firewood business, but it really sort of crept up on me.  Initially I just used wood laying around farm for my own needs, but things took off from there.  The number of people installing woodfuel boilers and log fires is really amazing.  That’s partly due to the surge in energy prices making it more attractive, but there’s also a feel good factor looking at an log fire and also using a more eco-friendly fuel.”

Robert Lodge of Firewood Logs

Robert’s success is music to the ears of the Forestry Commission, which believes that woodfuel could be a major growth area for businesses and woodland owners in South Yorkshire.  Stoked by the prospects, Robert recently joined a five day fact finding mission to Austria, organised by the Forestry Commission and South Yorkshire Forest Partnership.  It was funded by a European Union scheme called Activating Forest Owners, which has invested 200,000 Euros over two years into South Yorkshire to boost the woodfuel sector by getting more woods into management.

Robert added:

“Austria is far more advanced than we are and have lots more biomass boilers, but we are moving in their direction as oil prices keep on going up.  The trip made me even more optimistic about the future.  But we need to get more local woodlands producing timber in South Yorkshire.  At the moment most of my supplies come from other parts of the country, especially the Midlands.  But there are lots of neglected woods here that should be put back to work.”

South Yorkshire has 11,465 hectares (28,662 acres) of woodland – over 9% of land area – but forest chiefs estimate that around half remains an untapped resource.  Yorkshire currently produces about 300,000 tonnes of timber each year – over a third of which comes from Forestry Commission woodlands.

Rudie Humphrey, from the Forestry Commission, said:

“Robert’s experience shows the two sides of the story.  Woodfuel is an opportunity to create profitable rural businesses and employment, but we need more raw materials coming out of local woods.  We also had woodland owners on the trip to Austria and the message is getting home.  Our local woods are a big asset for us and well managed can produce economic and conservation gains.”

Media calls: Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038

contact:       shaun@sf-pictures.com

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Young footballers score with Mini Kicks

For the past month or so i’ve been busily working on a video project for the enthusiastic and professional Ben Hunter of Mini Kicks.

His brief was to produce a 2/3 minute video for his website showing the vibrancy and energy of his football academy and nursery sessions with children aged between 2 years 6 months and 5 years.

I spent several hours with Ben and his team at the Keepmoat Stadium and Loversall Farm Day Nursery before finally having enough material to work with.

Check out Ben’s website  http://minikicks.org

If your looking to commission a video for your website etc please drop me an email or give me a call on 07778 315553 to discuss your requirements.

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Ed Miliband, MP Opens Sustainable Energy Company’s Showroom

Marcus Payne and Ed Miliband

A pioneering Doncaster company celebrated the opening of a brand new showroom with a visit from the Rt. Hon. Ed Miliband, MP. 

Family- owned business Green Energy Solutions UK Ltd held an official launch to mark the opening of its new state-of-the-art facility at Jupiter Business Park in Bentley.   The event was also attended by Doncaster’s Civic Mayor, Cllr Eva Hughes.

The company, which specialises in the supply of alternative energy products including solar and photovoltaic panels and ground-source heat pumps, has seen its turnover increase three-fold since it began trading just three years ago.  It installs products in both residential and commercial buildings, as well as in affordable housing schemes and other local authority projects across the UK.   The new showroom will accommodate its ambitious expansion plans and allow customers to see how the alternative energy equipment works.

Part of the demonstration process involved the use of a “Sunny Beam” device, which, through Bluetooth technology measures the amount of energy generated by photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the showroom, and the subsequent monetary savings which can be made by using these.

Managing Director, Marcus Payne who is a shareholder along with wife Sally, and father, David explains: “We are delighted that our constituency MP, Ed Miliband could join us to commemorate this very special occasion. The event marked a new generation of business development for us, and it’s very exciting.  The company has largely grown through word of mouth, but the fact that we can now physically show people how alternative energy equipment works in order to heat their home or office and significantly reduce their energy bills  means that we can really develop the business.”

As the company looks to the future it has already taken on two more staff, and the family anticipates that more people will be needed to fulfil new orders  as they come in from within the region and further afield.

David Payne adds: “With gas bills alone set to increase by 25% in the coming months, more and more people will be looking at other ways to heat their homes and places of work.   Our new showroom will allow those looking at new methods to see for themselves how it all operates and to appreciate just how relatively straightforward, uncomplicated and cost effective it is.”

Rt. Hon, Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North , comments:  “I’m pleased to be able to support a new, innovative venture in Doncaster at a time when jobs and work are all-important. It is fantastic to see business growth like this in my constituency.

“It is important to find new ways of delivering energy savings for homes and businesses, and Green Energy Solutions shows how technology available today can unlock that potential.”

Green Energy Solutions’ projects in the region include photovoltaic panel installations at Freshney Green, a 296 property residential scheme in Grimsby for Shoreline Housing Partnership and Stamford Homes, and a large-scale residential scheme in Sculcoates, Hull also for Stamford Homes.  The Salvation Army in Bridlington has also recently benefitted from the company’s expertise and products which have been installed on the town’s drop-in centre and community hub.  In addition, Green Energy Solutions has carried out scores of individual property installations for homeowners across Yorkshire who will benefit from lower energy bills.

To commemorate the official showroom opening, Green Energy Solutions UK is offering a special discount on photovoltaic panels, with £1,000 discount given on all installations booked during June.

For further press information, please contact Lisa Drury at Realm Public Relations on 01757 242583 or 07718 974049 or e-mail : lisa@realmpr.co.uk

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Finance Yorkshire makes major investment in S3 ID Group

Craig Hopwood of Finance Yorkshire and Derek Gennard of S3-ID Ltd

S3 ID, the UK’s market-leading provider of innovative location awareness solutions, has become the first company to receive an equity investment from Finance Yorkshire.

Based in Rotherham, S3 ID offers a range of unique and patented solutions which improve personnel safety and security in the oil, gas, petrochemical and energy sectors.

This major investment of £1.1m from Finance Yorkshire’s Equity Fund will enable S3 ID to maintain the controlled expansion it has experienced over the last three years which has resulted in the development of several new innovative products, along with the acquisition of further patents gained in new strategic sales regions around the globe

S3 ID, which also has regional offices in Norway and Singapore, has developed a unique product range from its experience of serving the on-shore and off-shore oil, gas and energy industries. Its products are ATEX certified and solutions use patented technology, time proven in operations worldwide.

Gro Kielland, chairman of S3 ID, said: “We are extremely positive about the new opportunities this investment will create. It further strengthens our operations and will allow more investment in product and business development, demonstrating to our clients our sound business standing and continuing commitment to helping our customers in the oil, gas, petrochemical and energy sectors meet the highest safety standards available for their personnel.

“Going forward, our first priority will be to ensure our customers continue to receive the same high level of service and support they expect and deserve as we drive the business forward.”

Craig Hopwood, who led this investment on behalf of the Fund, added: “S3 ID is a pretty unique business that operates within a high-tech, growth sector. This made the company an extremely attractive investment.

Derek Gennard of S3-ID Ltd and Craig Hopwood of Finance Yorkshire.

We believe that S3 ID is well placed to continue its expansion in the oil, gas and energy industries and we see this as a long-term strategic investment in our region for Finance Yorkshire. We are looking forward to working with Derek Gennard, Eivind Fredriksen and the rest of the management team to help achieve their growth plans.”

A strong professional team was put in place to secure the investment deal. The principal legal advisors in this process were Stephen Kitts of Eversheds and Michelle Kershaw of Pinsent Masons. Tax advice was provided by Steven Watson of Allots and banking support by Julia Drever of NatWest.

Alex McWhirter, chief executive of Finance Yorkshire, commented: “This is a landmark deal, not only for Finance Yorkshire, but also for the region. S3 ID is a global business, based in South Yorkshire, which is leading the way in new high-end technology. The investment is an indication as to the type of equity deals we are able to provide businesses to help them meet their needs for growth.”

Helping a range of small and medium sized businesses to meet their funding requirements for growth and development, Finance Yorkshire provides seedcorn, loan and equity linked investments, ranging from £15,000 to £2m.

The project is supported financially by the European Union. It has attracted £30million investment from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme, £15million from Yorkshire Forward’s Single Programme, and £45million match funding from the European Investment Bank.

For more information about Finance Yorkshire, please visit www.finance-yorkshire.com or ring 0845 649 0000.

For further information on S3 ID products and services, visit www.s3id.com, call the team directly on +441709 538205 or email: sales@S3-ID.com

email:       shaun@sf-pictures.com

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