Page last updated at 15:19 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 16:19 UK

Renewable energy plans unveiled

Mike Russell
Mr Russell said biomass projects could deliver benefits

Environment Minister Mike Russell has announced plans to increase the use of biomass for renewable energy.

A total of 25 actions have been agreed by the Scottish Government in response to a report looking at ways to increase wood production to be used as fuel.

Among the proposals is for a series of demonstration sites to be set up to promote bioenergy best practice.

Mr Russell made the announcement in Dumfries as he launched Scotland's first NHS hospital biomass boiler.

He said he believed the use of alternative fuels like wood chip, wood pellets or cereals had "the potential to deliver a wide range of benefits".

The government proposals come in response to a report by a task force headed by the Forestry Commission Scotland.

It looked at ways of increasing the supply of wood to the renewable energy sector.

Among the moves being proposed was the development of a grant to encourage growers to provide more potential fuel products.

Mr Russell said the Dumfries scheme showed what could be achieved in terms of delivering "real carbon savings".

The biomass boiler will provide heat to both the Crichton Royal Hospital and Dumfries Infirmary.

It is also hoped it can safeguard or create a number of jobs in the local forestry sector.

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