Public meeting endorses formation of a Steering Committee

Updated: Jan 30, 2019

MINUTES of public meeting held in the Macclesfield Institute Supper Room at 7pm on Tuesday 22 January 2019.


1. PRESENT: Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie; Mount Barker Mayor, Ann Ferguson; Ward Councillor, Tess Minett; Chairman Macclesfield Community Association, Graeme Milne; Convener, Brian Lewis; Wally Bolt; Kath Thurmer; Jane Tregaskis; Carol Prey; Mark Stewart-Jones; John Keough; Jeanette Keough; Jean Atkinson; Margaret Wilksch; Karin Foxwell; Geoff Brockhouse; Barrie Williams; Anne Welsh; Alex Pearse; Darrol Magor; Barry Lincoln; David Johnson; Cate Ellis; Steve Shotton; Melissa Rebbeck; Fiona Williams; Kelvin Williams; Stephen Heading.


2. PURPOSE: To consider the proposal for a Community Biochar Centre, prepared by Brian Lewis, and if supported by the meeting to elect a Steering Committee to take the matter further.


3. Discussion & Questions Arising:

Brian Lewis summarized the proposal, stressing the emphasis on using biochar as a means of carbon capture to help move Macclesfield towards carbon neutrality.

A Community Biochar Centre would be set up as a not-for-profit organisation to convert tree litter from local households, landowners and businesses to biochar and thereby capture carbon, offset and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create voluntary carbon offsets to trade. Registered users would have the greenhouse gases produced by their electricity consumption offset by the greenhouse gases captured by the Centre.

The expected revenue streams to the Centre would be expected to come from processing fees, pick-up fees, biochar bulk sales, on-farm processing contract fees, equipment hire fees and training courses.

Greenhouse gas generation by the Centre would be minimized by using low-tech methods, such as flame-capped kilns. These have the advantage of virtually nil smoke emissions. Six of these kilns are envisaged as a starting point, each with a volume of 0.5m³. Allowing for excessively hot or wet weather (say 60 operating days) this could produce approx. 45 tonnes of biochar thereby capturing approx. 115 tonnes of greenhouse gases and offsetting approx. 226 MWhr of electricity.

The location currently being considered for the Centre is a section of

Lord Robinson parklands adjacent to the former tennis courts area. Kelvin Williams explained that this location is favoured because of its seclusion, water availability and road access.

Fire risk would be minimised by limiting operation to days when the

weather is safe for an outside fire in the open; by observing necessary

clearances between the kilns and vegetation; on-site fire-fighting equipment; low probability of ember emission; ember screens; complete quenching of the hot biochar at the end of each batch.

Risk of contamination of the biochar would be minimised by only taking

timber from registered users who have entered into a legal agreement with the Centre to supply only organic material. Also incoming material will need to be manually handled and sorted, so visual inspection will be relatively easy.

Comments from those present with experience of large-scale use of

biochar suggested that the Centre would not be able to supply enough

biochar for some applications now being trialled, such as cattle feed

supplements.

Brian Lewis responded that there will likely be a healthy tension between

the aim to capture carbon to offset local greenhouse gas generation and

supplying large quantities of biochar requiring investment in more technology with subsequent generation of more greenhouse gases by the Centre thereby defeating the main objective of the Centre. So two sets of accounts will need to be kept; a financial set of accounts aimed at making the Centre financially sustainable; and a carbon account aimed at ensuring that the greenhouse gases generated by the Centre itself are used in the calculation of total greenhouse gases averted.

The Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, said that she believed this type of community endeavour would be of interest to philanthropists.


4. Election of Steering Committee.

Volunteers were invited to join a Steering Committee to take the proposal forward. Kelvin Williams moved that the Committee be chaired by Brian Lewis. Seconded Mark S-J. Accepted.

The following offered to join the Committee and were gratefully accepted:

Kelvin Williams; Kath Thurmer; Tess Minett (Council Observer); Council Officer (name to be advised); Stephen Heading. Post-meeting: Greg Marlu.


5. Close of meeting. The meeting closed at 8:20 pm.




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