Wildlife Trust Plans To Grow Fenland Reed Crops For Biofuel
Aerial view directly above the large biofuel storage tanks holding huge amounts of biomass for renewable and sustainable energy

Reed crops grown on the fenlands of south east England could be used as biofuel, as part of innovative new plans by The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (WTBCN). The organisation has been awarded £8 million of funding by the Heritage Horizon Award towards its Fens Peatland Project. 

The innovative project is titled “Peatland Progress: A New Vision for the Fens”, and it has multiple aims that are designed to benefit the environment and inspire more sustainable farming practices in the UK. It will be based on an area of land known as Speechly’s Farm.

Part of the mixed wet and dry land will be used to cultivate reedbeds. The reeds can then be harvested and used for biofuel, and for other purposes including thatching or for processing into materials. The reeds also help to prevent soil erosion and promote healthy peatland, which is capable of storing C02.

Sphagnum moss and bulrush will also be grown as part of the project, which will help with peat preservation. The crops will provide extra wildlife habitats and add to the biodiversity of the area. 

Brian Eversham, Chief Executive of WTBCN said: “The Peatland Progress project will further develop a model of agricultural production, preventing loss of peat soils to help future-proof farming while locking in carbon, cleaning water and supporting wildlife.”

He added: “This pioneering and important work is tackling climate change and biodiversity loss, while also addressing the anxieties of the next generation head-on.”

Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive of the Heritage Fund, said: “It is so exciting to be able to confirm our award of over £8million to Peatlands Progress, a truly ambitious and visionary project.”

She added: “The scheme – part of our Heritage Horizon Awards programme which focused on innovation in heritage – is a pioneer, leading the way for the Heritage Fund’s future ambition to champion large-scale, long-term and innovative solutions to climate change and nature’s crises, with people at the core.”

Meanwhile, the site of the Isle of Wight Festival will be used to harvest grass for biofuel production, the local radio station reports. Newport based Black Dog Biogas will use the festival site to grow grass year-round, when the site would otherwise not be in use. The biofuel will be used to provide electricity for the National Grid and local supplies. 

Festival leader John Giddings said: “I’m really pleased that we’re able to give our land a new lease of life, helping to generate renewable energy and making sure the fields are used productively year-round.”

He added: “On top of delivering one of the UK’s best music festivals on the Island, we have also sought to play a positive role in the local community and we’re proud that we will be doing our bit in the push for a more sustainable future for the Island.”

The Isle of Wight Festival already has a strict sustainability policy in place, and the new deal will help to seal its reputation as one of most eco-friendly UK festivals. 

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