Council to hold seminar in an attempt to get firms to take proposal forward

Logs in Bowmont Forest near Kelso.
Logs in Bowmont Forest near Kelso.

Development of a timber drying facility utilising heat generated by the council’s waste treatment facility is viable, councillors have been told.

However SBC are set to make a technical report on the potential business opportunity available to the private sector.

Members of the economic development group at the council discussed the conclusion of the report at a meeting last Thursday.

The report’s authors produced business models for six options based on the production of dried wood chips or logs or both, using heat from the planned waste treatment plant at Easter Langlee or heat from a separate biomass boiler, which could be located anywhere in the Borders.

It found that most scenarios would produce a viable business, including those not connected to the local heat network to be created at Easter Langlee.

Councillor Stuart Bell, executive member for economic development, said: “This is a gift to businesses as the council itself is not able to pursue it.”

Mr Bell added that it would now by up to businesses to examine the report and put together a business case and “drive the initiative forward”.

The report, which includes detailed financial projections, will be made available to businesses and the council will organise a seminar to enable interested firms to discuss the proposals with the report’s authors.

The lack of suitable timber drying facilities in the Borders has been identified as a key constraint on the local forestry sector.

At last week’s meeting councillors were told that forests take up almost a fifth of the Borders’ land area, but it is the only region in the south of Scotland and north of England without a drying and processing facility.

Mr Bell said that a facility within the region would bring greater benefits to the Borders than the current practice where timber and waste wood is transported out of the area to be dried and processed.

Councillors were also told that such a drying facility could open up the potential for the production of more ‘high specification’ timber products such as cladding, flooring and joinery products in the area.