Biochar which is good for plant growing
Trimplants have developed a new peat-free growing mix with biochar, which has a long-lasting biodiversity uplift both for the soil and growth of plants

East Devon District Council’s Cabinet have approved a £207,000 package of decarbonisation support for local businesses and community groups.

Organisations will be able to benefit from free training, carbon surveys and carbon action plans to help them save money and increase profitability by reducing waste and carbon emissions. Firms which take part will be able to apply for grant funding later this year to help deliver their decarbonisation plans.        

A recent survey of local businesses revealed that funding for equipment to help reduce carbon emissions is a priority, together with specialist, on-site support for carbon reduction. Feedback from EDDC’s Culture, Leisure and Tourism Fund revealed that advice on equipment or carbon reduction was crucial, as well as being able to measure carbon savings. These experiences have helped to shape the Carbon Action Programme (CAP) support.

Cllr Matt Hall, EDDC’s Portfolio Holder for the Economy, said:

Supporting local firms towards net zero is a top priority for us as we move towards a sustainable economy. We can all see the way our climate is changing and the impact that this is having locally such as increased flooding.

The CAP is a way for local firms and community organisations to save money at the same time as reducing their carbon footprint. Environmental improvements can make a big difference to a firm’s bottom line.

The CAP makes great business sense because it will help businesses understand their impact on our planet, provide funding for new equipment and measure improvements. It’s a win-win opportunity!

I’m really proud of East Devon businesses that are already pioneering the path to net zero emissions. They are stepping up to the challenge by proving their innovative ideas really make a difference. In turn, this is helping us achieve our vision for clean growth across the district.

Businesses in East Devon are already leading the charge to zero carbon, thanks to Innovation and Resilience Funding issued by East Devon District Council.

Based at Odhams' Wharf, Blue Marble Environmental Partnerships received £50K to automate processing of carbon accounting data. Project Impact (a tailored carbon calculator) is a platform that allows companies to measure the carbon footprint of a project. Project Impact gives valuable insight into the carbon impact on the business specific activity or ‘project’ and shine a light on how this can be reduced. It can be modified to suit almost any kind of project, from the laying of a road surface to the hosting of a music event. Blue Marble qualify the results and ensure compliance with the client’s Net Zero strategy.

Henry Waite from Blue Marble, said:

We are very pleased to see meaningful carbon reduction initiatives and actions being taken off the back of using this platform. We are helping with substantial reductions of carbon impacts within the ‘harder to reach’ parts of a business activities. We are motivated to keep driving the capabilities and widening the application, ultimately helping with the urgent, global Net Zero agenda.  

Located outside Honiton, Trimplants is a family-run wholesale nursery growing a wide range of plant varieties. Awarded almost £37k to run biochar trials, they have developed a new peat-free growing mix with biochar, which has a long-lasting biodiversity uplift both for the soil and growth of plants.  As it degrades very slowly, the carbon is locked up for hundreds of years.

Owner Terry Trim explained:

By using biochar in our planting across the nursery we have sequestered around 8500 kgs of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2e).  We used nursery waste and local hedgerow materials to make the biochar which previously would’ve been burnt on a bonfire (releasing methane/CO2) or left to rot, releasing harmful methane over time.

We sold over 100 starter packs to local gardeners/growers, equating to 750 kg of CO2-equivalent being sequestered. By incorporating biochar, we believe our plants will gradually develop greater resilience to the changing climate, especially increased rainfall and long, dry periods.

The funding has helped us establish ourselves as a local biochar best practice centre. We’ve gained valuable experience working with Plymouth University and we will present the latest research results on 29th January at a public biochar workshop where all are welcome.

Based near Axminster, Hook Farm Leisure Park received £21k to install an air-source heat pump to reduce their energy-consumption and a water-saving facility.

Owner John Bearman highlighted:

We estimate that by collecting and treating water from a spring on the campsite for one of our toilet blocks, we have reduced mains water consumption by 90% and we are saving around £2,250 each year.

We are saving energy too with the air source heat pump. It has reduced our electricity usage in heating the water -- 25% of water is now heated using the 3x-efficiency of the heat pump and we can estimate saving around £500 per year.

Many of our campsite guests are very keen to see us to minimise our carbon footprint. Since we bought the business 7 years ago we have constantly been looking at ways to reduce our use of carbon energy. The grant from EDDC allowed us to complete two major projects which will significantly reduce our use of carbon energy and has given us the experience to look at further ways to reduce our energy use.

The Carbon Action Programme is expected to launch in early Spring 2024. Any organisations interested in learning more about the programme, should sign up to East Devon Business newsletter