Neighbourhood Plan
Energy & low energy design Focus Group

These pages carry reports of the progress of the individual Focus Groups in the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

We will keep you informed through these pages of developments and information as the project develops.

Please visit these pages regularly to see how the Piddle Valley Community can have its say in shaping the future of the Valley and how it will affect you.

This group is led by Dot Browning email Tel: 01300 348280


News Letter No 11 - 01/11/14

The recently commissioned Woodland Report confirmed a significant stock of fallen and poor quality trees sufficient to supply logs and kindling through the Valley for many years to come. By agreement with woodland owners, Forestry Consultant Richard Preston (accompanied by Environment and Energy Group Leaders) inspected six woodlands in the Valley. Subsequent discussion with woodland owners confirmed the extent of activity and management. While a small portion of woodland is managed, the majority of woodlands are unmanaged and much of the woodland throughout the Valley is used by local Shoots.

The Report recommends greater management of woodland to:

  • ensure the flora and fauna natural habitat be better conserved and protected
  • enable organised replanting
  • encourage the reintroduction of coppicing
  • convert fallen timber to logs and kindling

Woodland management can be self-financing and there are successful privately owned as well as community woodland enterprise models in Dorset. Furthermore woodland management would enhance the value of woodland and ensure its long term survival as well as contributing to the Valleys attractive landscape.

A Community Land Trust could be the mechanism for

  • improving the management of woodlands
  • enabling 'local' logs and kindling to be purchased throughout the Valley
  • creating employment opportunities
  • identifying suitable local storage facilities
  • funding the machinery and equipment

We need to establish the demand for logs and kindling through the Valley and would appreciate your help by completing the Questionnaire enclosed with the PVNV November / December issue and handing in at Piddletrenthide Post Office.

If that is not to hand, a copy is available here for you to print out ancd complete.

Village Meetings - Please make a note of the Village meeting dates and come along and "have your say" - we really do want your input and views.

News Letter No 9 - 01/07/14

The Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan will support a range of energy initiatives to benefit residents, businesses and community facilities :

  • A hydropower scheme utilising the River Piddle to generate power for use by Piddle Valley First School.
  • A woodland management scheme to generate woodland fuel and bi-products using fallen and storm damaged trees, the reintroduction of coppicing and new planting to enable woodfuel generation into the future.
  • A solar advice scheme enabling creation of small solar fields to benefit community facilities.
  • Guidance on the specification and positioning of solar tiles and panels and the opportunities for low level installations.
  • Climate Change measures to limit flooding and run-off.
  • A Community Land Trust as a vehicle to procure and manage community projects.
  • Guidance on energy saving measures for residential buildings.

News Letter No 8 - 01/05/14
Woodland energy

The recent inspection of 6 woodlands confirmed not only the diversity and richness of our woodland but the potential for woodland fuel enabling logs and kindling to be available for purchase in the Valley. The sheer extent of fallen trees could generate significant tonnage of logs now and a managed approach would ensure a continued stock for future decades. We await the full report and discussion with owners to take this forward.

Climate Change

DCC Climate Adaptation Officer Rupert Lloyd gave an overview of anticipated changes to weather patterns and the impact on the Piddle Valley. There was confirmation that measures taken at high contour levels could reduce the run off and flooding experienced this year in the Valley bottom.


The Plan will include design criteria for domestic solar panels with residents encouraged to see if gardens could accommodate low-level panels. There are opportunities for smaller solar farms but a detailed study of potential sites will be needed.

News Letter No 7 - 01/03/14

Outstanding survey work on the River Piddle and visits to hydro schemes have been put on hold due to local water level and flows and significant flooding.

Woodland energy

By agreement with landowners, an assessment of Valley woodlands is to be undertaken by an experienced woodland consultant and will include the potential for wood fuel. Existing models for wood fuel generation are being studied and a plan will be put forward showing how a community scheme could operate enabling logs and kindling to be available for purchase in the Valley.

We have accepted a Woodland Trust invitation to take part in a training event in Bristol to better understand the opportunities for managing woodfuel for the community.

Reducing energy costs

Guidance for existing, listed and new buildings with sustainability advice to: reduce the energy required, avoiding throwing energy away, switching to renewable or low carbon energy, use of air thermostats.

Climate Change Workshop

Following National Climate Change Week 2014 (3 - 9 March), DDC are offering a workshop for residents in the Piddle Valley to explore the possible local impacts of severe weather associated with climate change and then identify possible solution. Please do get in touch with me by email or telephone if you would like to attend. Once we have an agreed date (7th,8th 9th April are possible) and venue, full details will advised to all registering an interest and will also be included on


A reminder that the new refuse arrangements commence through the Valley on Friday the 7th March. Plastic bottle tops from cartons as well as plastic bottles can now be included in your Recycling wheelybin (green lid) or Box. See

News Letter No 6 - 01/01/14

After the session with Pete West, leader of DCC Renewable Energy Strategy and Rupert Lloyd, DCC Climate Adaptation Officer, Energy Group members have met a hydro consultant to discuss feasibility of a hydropower turbine on the River Piddle. Data relating to river flow rates obtained by the Energy group suggest that a hydro scheme is viable subject to some initial survey work by members before a professional feasibility study can be carried out.

Further hydro related matters were discussed, including Environment Agency involvement, impoundment / abstraction licences, and various funding mechanisms. Site visits to existing local hydro schemes are being arranged to widen our knowledge of viability levels.

News Letter No 5 - 01/11/13
Hydropower + Woodland fuel

advice from Pete West (leader DCC Renewable Energy Strategy) and Rupert Lloyd (Climate Adaptation Officer) suggests

  • funding available for a pre-feasibility to confirm the viability and potential of the identified Piddle Valley locations. With the permission of landowners, a full feasibility on the recommended locations can follow.
  • mechanism for managing community woodland for fuel, the need for specific storage and drying facilities.
Solar voltaic panels, reducing energy costs + recycling

advice is being compiled and the new waste arrangements from 2014 include wider collection of plastic items.


News Letter No 4 - 01/09/13

Realising renewable energy generation opportunities in the Valley continues to be the main objective and its energy conservation to reduce running costs. Some progress and recommendations have been achieved but we would welcome help from more members of our community in this important subject for the future. Our objectives :


Potential locations on the River Piddle have been identified and visits to established hydropower projects are arranged to establish viability of our smaller river.


While the siting of the proposed Bourne Park solar array applications has minimal visual impact in the wider landscape, the capacity of the grid to accommodate further extensive photovoltaic arrays in the Valley is limited.

  • include guidance in specifying and siting solar panels for domestic, business and live/work units
Reducing energy costs
  • guidance and recommendations for residents on reducing heating and power costs
Fuel from Woodland

Discussions continue with the Environment Group, the users and owners of woodland, to devleop a community policy for fuel for use as logs or chippings within the community. Visits are planned in September to community projects elsewhere in Dorset which are up, running, viable and benefitting their neighbourhoods.

  • create, if this proves viable, a management plan for the production of a community energy resource in conjunction with landowners and local employment, perhaps using a Valley co-ordinating body or trust
Wind turbines

It is clear that any large scale wind turbine application would gain little support, though it is recognised that individual owners may opt for a turbine if their siting is appropriate. Those interested in this subject should make contact with Dot Browning .

  • include evidence for any small scale operation required in specific locations
Recycling initiatives

The Anaerobic Digester (AD) and Mole Valley Feed Mill take in commercial, organic and animal waste and the photovoltaic arrays will generate power at Bourne Park, leading the way in energy terms. We continue to explore possible community energy and recycling initiatives.

  • establish whether any spare capacity can be taken up at Enterprise Park
  • provide a collection point for plastic lids from milk and beverage cartons in large quantities for their reuse and reduce the amount of waste to landfill.
  • encourage use of horse manure for allotments, gardens or brick production for biofuel stoves managed with woodland fuel.

News Letter No 3 - 01/07/13

Our concentration has been focussed on the potential for renewable energy sources through the Valley, exploring community woodland options, their management and viability of hydropower and solar. A visit to Enterprise Park highlighted companies already leading the field utilising renewable solutions.


An invitation to walk an ancient 11 hectare woodland and adjacent woods confirmed there is potential to harness wood for fuel ie chippings, logs and pellets for open fires and stoves; chippings with 30% moisture content burn for half the cost of oil. Further discussions are planned with landowners and foresters to identify other woodland and how it could be managed and the fuel made available for the community.

A visit to Bournemouth Renewable Energy Marketplace and discussions with a range of exhibitors confirmed pellets for biomass boilers some 2/3rds the cost of oil so to be considered in any new building.


Investigations have established the viability of generating energy from the River Piddle - historically, there were seven water driven mills on the River Piddle located between Alton Pancras and Piddlehinton. The Environment Agency (EA) provided river flow data for two locations, South House, Piddletrenthide and Little Puddle, Piddlehinton, so the highest, lowest and average flow rates have now been established. We have evaluated two Case studies from Hydropower installers - the conclusion that it is potentially viable to generate energy utilising hydropower on the River Piddle, using either turbine or waterwheel generation techniques.

The NP Energy Focus Group arranged for the EA to visit Piddle Valley School on Monday 17th June to present and lead activities with the children on different aspects of water flow, purity, flooding and water life. We hope this will be both educational and enjoyable and will continue with groups monitoring water flow etc. into the Autumn Term.

Mole Valley Feed Solutions + Eco Sustaintables

Following a recent visit to the Bourne Park feed mill, Mole Valley Farmers were invited to contribute an article to inform local residents of the history of the mill, where it fits within the current Mole Valley Feeds business; and the progress and future development of running the mill with renewable energy sources.

Picture of drier

Originally built by Hanford PLC as a grass drying plant in the late 1960's with a key raw material for feeding farm livestock already being manufactured, the decision was taken to extend the factory and manufacture commercial ruminant diets, concentrating on larger dairy units and promoting their products as green feed. Several years later Hanford sold the mill which has over a period of 14 years had a succession of owners. For the last 8 years the mill has been operated and owned by Mole Valley Farmers trading as Mole Valley Feed Solutions and produces about 80,000 tonnes of livestock feeds each year servicing South and South East England.

Piddlehinton Feed Mill, one of four within Mole Valley Farmers feeds operation has a combined output of over 350,000 tonnes each year. The feed mills complement the overall business of Mole Valley Farmers which includes 50 retail outlets with SCATS in Dorchester and Mole Valley Farmers in Yeovil local to the mill.

The Mole Valley Farmers business is always looking at ways to reduce the mill costs of production, which in turn helps to make us competitive in the marketplace. This keeps the price of feed affordable to our members and farmer customers.

Eco Sustainables

One option for reducing costs was to produce renewable energy on the Piddlehinton site. In 2010 Mole Valley Farmers and Hanford, in partnership with ECO Sustainables, decided to build an "anaerobic digester". This was to supply the mill with both gas and electricity; with the additional output supplying the main grid. The digester came on stream in September 2012. Neither party wanted a digester that needed to use crops specifically grown to fuel the digester and the decision was made to use domestic and catering food waste, which in the main would come from doorstep waste food collections - food waste is liquefied using either pig slurry from nearby pig units or water drawn from a bore hole, then pumped to digester.

Picture of drier
Picture of methane boiler

Methane gas is produced to run the engine that produces the electricity, with an additional pipe line installed to the mill where the gas is used to run a boiler; this in turn produces the steam for use in the production process. The waste product from the digester is then pumped through a pasteurizing unit into a holding tank where farmers collect the product with tractors and tankers to spray back onto the fields as fertilizer.

In addition to the digester the feed mill is also drawing electricity from the new Photovoltaic site (solar power) in the adjoining fields. This is another joint venture managed by Hanford and as with the digester this source of power generation is in the process of being expanded.

With the combined power from the renewable energy resources on the site i.e. electricity from the digester and the photovoltaic plants, gas generated from the digester and water for the plant all sourced from local bore holes, Mole Valley Feed Mill at Piddlehinton will become the only feed mill in the country to be run entirely on green energy and anticipate that the total energy generation from the site will be in excess of 10 Megawatts by the year 2016.

The Energy Focus Group is exploring further renewable energy initiatives on Enterprise Park to benefit the wider Piddle Valley community.