Northumberland Log Bank helping tackle fuel poverty in county

An enterprising new project to help address fuel poverty in rural Northumberland is finding huge demand, having opened just four months ago.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 11:45 am
Kate Thick (left) and volunteer Alan Phipps (right) with Vanessa Proudlock (centre) , community engagement officer with Northumberland Estates, loading some of the logs donated by Northumberland Estates ready for delivery.

The brainchild of Kate Thick, The Northumberland Log Bank offers ready-cut, seasoned logs free of charge, and delivered to the door.

She said: “Fuel poverty is more common than you might think, particularly in deprived rural areas where a high proportion of household income is required to achieve an adequate standard of warmth and also where the traditional housing of the type lived in by many retired farm workers is commonplace and expensive to heat.”

The first of their two log stores is at Turveylaws Farm, Wooler where farmer Mark Robson has provided space and facilities free of charge next to his Particularly Good Potatoes plant.

A second log store is also now opening on a farm near Haydon Bridge.

At these storage depots the timber is sawn into logs by the Log Bank volunteers who also make the deliveries.

One of the first businesses to donate fuel was Northumberland Estates, which gave three tonnes of prepared logs and kindling. Other donations have come from Scott’s sawmill at Wooperton and Ford and Etal Estates.

Northumberland County Council and the Glendale Gateway Trust in Wooler are also supportive.

Plans are already under way for the Wooler Log Bank to be powered through solar energy which will cut costs, and can help supply smaller satellite hub Log Banks in strategic places across the county including Berwick, Bellingham and Rothbury.

The satellite hubs would be staffed and run by volunteers with the wood donated mostly by farmers and landowners, but some also coming from homeowners. The volunteers are trained to use chainsaws and only collect already fallen, small diameter wood.

“Moving forwards what we would also like to achieve links with other charities and organisations who can advise our clients on longer term help available, be it within the benefits system, energy conservation or grants for items such as insulation,” said Kate.

“We are at the beginning of our journey with this project, but already can see real need being met.”

To find out more, email [email protected]