Posted on behlaf of Sally Mills, Reserves Bioenergy Project Manager

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is currently running a project looking at converting the wetland biomass from habitat management works into energy. Luckily for them, a willing volunteer and valuable pair of hands from the local community has stepped in to help. After too many 5am starts, farmer Ray from Lilac Farm in Somerset (a former dairy farm converted to beef) admits he’s now ready for retirement. But instead of the quiet life he’s going to play a crucial part in converting harvested reeds and rush into energy to support the project.

The Somerset Levels and Moors is one of the pilot areas for project trials and with year 2 of a 3 year project well underway, ideas are being developed to achieve the end to end process of harvesting wetlands to the production of energy. There are two schemes being trialled in Somerset, and Lilac Farm is providing the location for both. Situated in the heart of the wetland complex known as the Avalon Marshes, the farm provides the perfect site for the proposed anaerobic digester and mobile briquetting plant. The project is using the existing silage facilities to store the feedstock in the necessary green condition for digestion and an area of hard standing is being utilised to store dry material ready for briquetting.

A recent site visit from DECC provided the opportunity to discuss the plans, and all agreed it is an excellent way to achieve project delivery and a great demonstration for projects in the future.

DECC site visit to Lilac Farm, Westhay (Sally Mills, RSPB)

Over the winter, demonstration days to share ideas, success and failures will be held on the farm, when we hope to attract a variety of audiences, including the local farming community – and there was Ray thinking he had retired for a quiet life!