Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis helps launch new energy source Brackenburn
PUBLISHED: 08:00 22 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:42 22 October 2015
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AFTER years of preparation, one of the most eagerly-anticipated, innovative, new renewable energy sources launched with a bang – and the blessing of Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis – at a North Somerset farm last week.
Biomass fuel Brackenburn takes bracken, a ‘nuisance plant’ from the Mendip Hills, to create an energy source that burns faster than oak.
Brackenburn was founded by West Country businessmen Barry Smith, John Burton and Richard Geleit.
The trio called upon the great and the good of North Somerset to attend the official launch at Puxton Park in Hewish, on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare last Thursday, with Mr Eavis, who turned 80 on Saturday, as the guest of honour.
He said: “There is so much bracken around, it is a brilliant idea. There are millions of acres of it. If you can turn all of that into profit, that would be very, very good.
“It’s very clever. It’s environmentally sound and all those kinds of things. It’s a fantastic effort. Good luck.”
The company won financial backing to the tune of £500,000 from energy giant Centrica, which owns British Gas. The briquetter – a machine that compacts the plant into log bricks to burn for power – is now stationed at Puxton Park.
At the launch, which showcased the best of North Somerset produce, including Thatchers cider and Lye Cross Farm cheese, the founders revealed they initially stumbled across the idea.
Managing director Mr Burton said: “The inspiration for this came about when a senior warden on the Mendip Hills suggested that bracken might be good for burning.
“It was an incredibly inspiring moment and since that day we have been obsessed about making it a reality, so we are so incredibly proud to be here today. We passionately believe we have created an alternative fuel source people will want to burn.”
Brackenburn gained support from local landowners and farmers but the funding from Centrica has been vital.
Sam Salisbury, from Centrica’s Ignite programme, said: “Biomass fuels have developed rapidly in the past decade. We’re especially excited to be working with Brackenburn.
“Their novel use for bracken is a great product. It’s good for our environment and provides fantastic opportunities for young people.”
Bracken covers 250,000 acres in the West Country. Brackenburn’s ‘brackette’ logs will be sold in garden centres and petrol stations in the West Country, before being rolled around the UK.