Venue Scott’s Cafe at the Forum Cinema Wednesday 19th at 7:45.
Interesting meeting last night. Here are a collection of notes taken at the meeting and thoughts following the meeting.
Main drivers of this project are Jim, Andy, Luke and Mike. The project was an idea from TT and now it is supported by Hexham Community Partnership who were also present at the meeting.
Jim opened the meeting thanking all present and introduced his team. He acknowledged this was a outcome of the TT meeting. In his introduction he outlined his vision of what the project was about. My notes read…but please if anyone reads this fill out the missing phrase to make sense. Re eduction of forestry, holistic practices, a basis for sustainability / employment and possible tourism. They are looking for grant funding and have approached the Heritage lottery fund. Why Hexham was to be discussed later in the meeting.
Jim passed the discussion over to Luke who is involved in woodland management.
Luke enjoyed Dukeshouse Wood for many years of his youth using it for recreation he mentioned cycling. He saw this project as an opportunity to provide sustainable forest management – recreation value- he mentioned that the woodland was not suited to large clear cutting and he brings experience from Europe where “continuous cover” techniques of tree cutting is used. He went on to mention horse logging a craft where there are only 12 recognised practitioners left in the UK. In terms of value woodland is generally seen as a stable investment. Land has an intrinsic value and timber a desirable asset. Public access is a possible stopping point for a wider interest in purchase as there are liability issues for the business felling trees. Other topics touched on were woodfuel, incentre heat incentive – commercial – biomass fuel miles and transport costs. Community heating possible grant funding available with subsidised sales for low income families. Luke passed back the meeting to Jim
Jim touched on Coppicing and carbon stored mainly in the root stock, to be included in the Heritage offer. Innovation wood fuel option requiring a wood burner and Jim mentioned community shares. Charcoal production was mentioned. Jim passed the discussion back to Luke.
Luke mentioned Agro-forrestry a good soil conditioner and Biochar. David seconded the benefit of such a soil type. Luke went on to discuss coppicing and broad leaf diversity and the need for light when planting to get the biodiversity.
It was suggested in the Q&A that Dukeshouse Wood was primarily used by the public for recreation and that biking ( not motor bikes) should be a consideration. Choppwell wood, ( a community wood ) and the festival was mentioned.
Jim then briefly discussed valuation and that closed competitive bids were to be submitted. think the date was the end of this month. Jim passed the meeting over to Andy.
Andy discussed the heritage of leather based products in Hexham going back to 3000 BC with Bronze and Iron age remains in the locality. Celctic breeding of sheep and cattle suited to the region being sold to the Romans in a bartering arrangement. He mentioned the Anglo Saxons driving out the Celts and Hexham being formed in 682 AD
The meeting of all the streams were very useful for production of leather goods and in the 1700’s tanneries in Hexham flourished. 6 tanneries in Hexham famous for making gloves and declined in 1886. John Riddley gloves and Andy passed around gloves Ochre in colour with a link to Ochrelands in Hexham. The tanneries closed in 1974. What leather craft production offers are skills and trades lost to be rediscovered . Andy mentioned the Guild of glovers, top quality craft people with a creative skill set. He mentioned textiles and NVQ’s and the connection with Oak bark / Larch to making fine leather goods.
Gillian asked about compliance of the evaluators before a charity would agree funding. Was this covered and it was not 100% clear if this was the case fellows versus chartered status was briefly mentioned. With the land would come shooting rights said Luke but not the sale of minerals below the land.
Jim mentioned that contacts for the group could be sought through him. and then went to mention funding..Heritage HLF thought there was nothing like this in the region and the project was a good fit. It offered eduction, utilities and value…( cant read my own notes). It was said “Not the driver” but I missed the context of the remark. Sustainability – timber road side sales and apprenticeship scheme as income possibilities. Jim mentioned support from Hexham Partnerships and hoped to set up a IPS or CIC company to take the project further.
I stopped taking notes at this point. If I have missed or interpreted wrongly, please Blog with corrections.
My perspective from this meeting was that we should take our hat off to Jim for championing this project in such a short time. He has shown tenacity and vision in getting it going. Unfortunately I am tied up with business matters of my own so I had to take a back seat at this time. If it had been left to me we would not have been in a position to make a bid. The TT energy group were instrumental in putting in the ideas and showing enthusiasm for the project but it is Jim’s single mindedness and focus that has brought it thus far.
I hope that TT will continue to support the group that forms out of the Dukeshouse Wood project and take an active role in community representation and possible fund raising. Tree sponsorship for Christmas is one point I missed that TT could actively engage in.
What do I learn from this project and TT’s involvement..I think we need to step back and look at what TT is about. Why has HCP engaged and in some way taken the lead, possibly because Jim is seeking out partners that have reputation and a solid punch in the presentation of his bid to the agent selling the woods. He needs credibility. If TT is in future to be taken seriously as a player to be sought out, we need “stuff” that is resources / financial power / a strong organisiation / legal footing. All of the raw enthusiasm is within TT. WE need to focus on growing that enthusiasm into a really powerful organisation to meet the many challenges and opportunities ahead. There will be many other Dukeshouse Wood projects. TT needs to prepare itself to take them on.