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Posted on:
10th May, 2018

Prime Minister opens UK's first biomass training facility

On Friday 4 May, Berkshire College of Agriculture (BCA) was delighted to welcome the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP to celebrate the official opening of its newest facility - The Energy Centre.

Prime Minister opens UK's first biomass training facility

The capital for the refurbishment and development of the site was made available through investment funds from the
Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The Centre will provide training in the form of
apprenticeships and short courses in biofuel engineering and related skills.

Rt. Hon Theresa May MP commented on her visit to BCA: “I was very pleased to go back to Berkshire College of Agriculture to hear of the innovative work the college is doing and to open the new energy centre.  It’s vital that young people have the education and skills to take on the jobs needed for the future. So I was pleased to be able to meet with students who, through using the new energy centre, will be given the training and opportunity to make a real difference to help protect our planet for future generations.”

The emerging sector of biofuel and renewable energy had been identified by the College and employer partner LC Energy as having a significant skills gap, with a substantial need for education and upskilling of the current workforce.

BCA’s Principal, Gillian May, explains: “The College enrolled 12 new apprentices in April 2018 for this and associated programmes. We already have two biomass boilers and engine rooms on campus; the addition of this new Centre provides the facility for the development of professionally recognised training for this sustainable energy provision. The capital for the refurbishment of this unit has been provided by the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP in accordance with the Skills Priority Statement. Tim Smith, the CEO of the LEP, was on site for the opening along with Mark Lebus, CEO of LC Energy, our employer partner in this venture”.

Mark Lebus reiterated Gillian’s position by adding: “We are delighted to have collaborated with BCA and the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP to deliver the UK’s first biomass training facility at a Further Education college. The renewable energy sector offers sustainable employment but currently lacks accredited training and skills. By widening access to training, we can eliminate the skills shortage and play our part in creating a Britain fit for the future - outlined in the Government’s recent Industrial Strategy. Our thanks to The Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP for opening this facility and helping to raise awareness of the skills shortage and opportunities in the biomass industry”.

The Thames Valley Berkshire LEP have financially supported the College and LC Energy in their mission to promote and educate the local and wider communities in this sustainable form of energy.

Peter Read, Chairman of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP explains: “This a great example of where the LEP has supported the development of new facilities in the area to support our students, workforce and business community. Investment in Colleges in Berkshire is a key priority in our Strategic Economic Plan, which identifies investment in skills as a fundamental pillar of local economic growth.”

BCA (Berkshire College of Agriculture) is Maidenhead’s only Further Education college and provides education and skills based training to over 1500 full time students.  For more information, please contact Abi Corbyn at BCA on 01628 827417 or email acorbyn@bca.ac.uk

LC Energy is one of the UK's leading specialists in sustainable wood fuel supply, complete biomass systems and long-term timber purchase agreements.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP brings all parts of the region - business, public sector, education and community together driving our economy to new levels.