The introduction of the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat earlier this year was designed to encourage medium sized businesses to start using renewable heat technology based on boilers that burn wood chips. The scheme has the potential to create opportunities for forest owners and forest producer organisations to mobilise forest biomass and create local biomass trade hubs, if supported properly.

The idea of a biomass trade hub might be new to Ireland, but it is a long-established model that has been successfully supplying rural communities with local wood fuel for years elsewhere in Europe. The benefits for forest management, forest owners, rural communities and the environment are well recognised.