• East Devon winter fuel log bank launches to help people struggling to afford heating bills

    1st June 2018 | News | Claire
  • The East Devon Log Bank will be launched next week (Tuesday) to help people in fuel poverty and keep their fires burning during the cold winter months.

    Devon County Councillor Claire Wright will formally launch and open the Log Bank along with invited guests, media and sponsors on Tuesday 5th June at 11.00a.m. at Knapp Copse Nature Reserve, near Honiton

    This initiative is a real first for Devon– there are a few similar schemes in other parts of the country, but Axewoods are breaking new ground trying to find the best way to help those who really are in need.

    Alan Dyer, Chair of the group, said:  “We all know being cold in winter time causes misery for those who cannot keep their home warm – and even takes lives.  This scheme allows us to benefit both woodland areas that need management and help people who don’t always have the cash to buy expensive dry, seasoned logs.  Recent publicity regarding pollutants from burning wet and unsuitable wood demonstrates the complexity of the problem.”

    We intend to start with a pilot project in Honiton/Ottery with first contact for logs through local food banks and referral systems.

    Axewoods has attracted funding from various sources and has purchased a new saw bench which will improve efficiency and safety.  This will be demonstrated.

    Claire Wright said: “What a wonderfully thoughtful initiative. It combines the sustainable management of local woodlands, with supporting people who are struggling to afford to heat their homes, sadly, a problem becoming more common, due to austerity. I will support it in any way I can and I am proud to be invited to launch the project.”

    Background notes:
    The Devon County Council website quotes 9.14% of the population in East Devon is in fuel poverty -which equals to 12,787 people.  Not all have log burners or open fires of course, but we are determined to address the problem and help where we can.

    Axewoods Co-operative, a Devon-based not-for-profit volunteer forestry group, is behind the initiative, which uses surplus wood harvested from maintaining nature reserves and other woodland areas. This is offered to their members and now to those most in need who have use of a wood fire or log burner.

    Axewoods is made up entirely by volunteers of all ages, using their own time and equipment to fell the trees and process the timber.

    Alan Dyer added: “Some of our sites where we harvest the wood are beautiful nature reserves or forestry commission land which really benefit from the management we support. We work closely with the owners to make sure everyone benefits.”

    The East Devon Log Bankis supported by East Devon District Council through provision of a site to store and process the timber.
    Axewoods is one of the projects currently being voted for in the Tesco ‘Bags of Help’ community funding initiative at their Honiton store

    Axewoods is currently researching undermanaged woodlands for a project funded by East Devon and Blackdown Hills AONBs and supported by the Forestry Commission.  The Ebico Trust has funded equipment and research into wider implications of fuel poverty

    Devon Community Foundation and East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund have funded equipment and training so all Axewoods volunteers are fully qualified and operate industry safety standards and first aid.

    Axewoods volunteers come from a wide range of professions, age profiles, skills backgrounds and a good gender balance.

    Research shows that a significant number of East Devon residents are in fuel poverty:

    “Households living in an area classified as rural, have the highest proportion living in fuel poverty and the largest fuel poverty gap. …the South West has the largest fuel poverty gap… “(ANNUAL FUEL POVERTY STATISTICS REPORT, 2016.  England. Department of Energy and Climate Change 30 June 2016