The MP for Rotherham, Sarah Champion, learnt about the vital role that waste wood plays in the production of renewable fuel on a visit to Esken Renewables’ Rotherham processing site last week (February 2).

The Labour MP was shown around the facility on Greasbrough road where Esken Renewables converts 70,000 tonnes-a-year of waste wood which would otherwise be destined for landfill into fuel to produce electricity at the nearby Templeborough biomass plant.

Ms Champion was invited by the Wood Recyclers’ Association as part of its ongoing work to build a network of MPs who understand and support the wood recycling industry.

Esken Renewables – formerly known as Stobart Energy – is the UK’s biggest biomass fuel supplier, converting around 1.2 million tonnes of waste wood a year into fuel to generate renewable electricity. The wood comes from sources including household waste recycling centres and waste management companies.

The business has five processing sites across the UK, at Widnes, Pollington, Rotherham and two in Tilbury and employs over 315 people.

After being shown around the site, Ms Champion was given an overview of the waste wood market and the work of the Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) from WRA chair, Richard Coulson.

Mr Coulson explained that the UK market had evolved to become the perfect example of the circular economy, providing green jobs, diverting waste from landfill, providing domestic fuel and producing 3.3TWh of green baseload power.

However, he stressed that these benefits could be undermined without the proper support from policymakers.

Sarah Champion MP said: “I was really interested to visit Esken Renewables’ site in Rotherham and to hear about how the company recycles waste wood into sustainable biomass fuel. This is a great example of how Rotherham is leading the way in recycling and low carbon energy generation.

“The current energy situation has made it clear that we cannot rely on other countries for our energy needs and this makes it crucial that we make the most of our own domestic resources, including waste wood.”

Richard Jenkins, Esken Renewables CEO, said: “We were delighted to host Sarah Champion today at our Rotherham site and to highlight the important role that Esken Renewables plays in the production of low carbon energy and UK energy security.

“Sarah was also pleased to hear that we are a forces-friendly employer, with around 10% of our workforce ex-miliary. In recognition of this, we are an Armed Forces Covenant Gold Award holder.”

WRA Chair Richard Coulson said: “It was a great pleasure to meet Sarah and tell her more about the waste wood market and all the benefits our sector brings. Waste wood is a strategically important source of domestic fuel which can serve our home markets and help deliver towards the UK’s energy security and net zero goals.”

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