by Jenny Martin
John Leigh-Pemberton’s perception of wood fuelled heating altered dramatically on a study tour to Austria where he saw ‘sophisticated technology, working impeccably with a healthy wood fuel economy’. John has since installed a 150KW automated system at Great Higham Farm on the North Downs in Kent. His confidence in the technology is such that he did not install an expensive back up system.
The system quietly and efficiently provides heat and hot water for a 5 bedroom house, a 16 bed thatched barn, two 3 bedroomed houses, two 2 bedroomed houses and a heated swimming pool. The system will be expanded in due course to incorporate office space, washing and changing room facilities.
John has developed his own supply of wood chip from 20 acres of local coppiced sweet chestnut on a 15 year cycle. He is currently trying out various chippers before investing in his own and is considering supplying quality wood chip to other users. The heating development at Great Highham Farm won the Biomass: Commercial Development category in the South East Renewable Energy Awards 2006.
John discussing automated wood heat with Robin Thorpe (Seven Sisters Country Park)