For a perfect sustainable sizzle, you need Broads Charcoal

11 June 2020 - Published by Harry Mach
How a unique charcoal burner in the Broads National Park is helping people switch to a more sustainable BBQ.

There’s not much to do since lockdown, so many of us head to the garden for a traditional British barbeque. However, the rising popularity of alfresco dining could be fueling deforestation and climate change. In 2018 alone Britain imported nearly 90,000 tonnes of charcoal and your sizzling sausages may have been cooked on charcoal from illegally harvested wood in tropical-forests. 

‘Betty’ the biochar burner runs on wood from conservation work in and around the Broads National Park and is funded by the EU Interreg project, CANAPE. The project has joined forces with Fairhaven Gardens to produce a high-quality, gourmet charcoal from managing their beautiful woodlands.

Charcoal Burner in use, a fire is lit in the lower chamber of the machine, heating the wood inside
Broads Authority Environment Policy Adviser, Andrea Kelly, is keen to encourage people to buy Broads Charcoal, which is more eco-friendly than imported charcoal used in most barbecues.

Andrea said, “Buying charcoal made from 100% local wood has so many positive environmental benefits. Not only are you helping rural businesses, the wood Betty uses is a product of conservation work that will let in light for flowers and plants; helping local wildlife including insects such as the swallowtail butterfly, birds and small mammals to flourish.”

“Food cooked on Betty’s charcoal is delicious, with a sweet smoky flavour. Also, you’ll no longer annoy your neighbours with the foul-smelling chemicals of traditional BBQs. It’s easy to light with just paper, so no need for firelighters, is ready to cook in 10 - 15 minutes and leaves ash which can be used for compost in gardens.”

Andrea hopes that a local market for Betty’s charcoal could grow and generate other income streams for people who manage our woodlands around the Broads. 

She added,
“There are already five businesses trained and looking into producing sustainable charcoal. With many more interested, we hope this will grow, as local people catch on to the multiple benefits of high-quality charcoal that helps manage our landscape.”


Members of the public can buy Broads Charcoal at the following locations, while stocks last. Please check with individual vendors on their arrangements for safe social-distancing. Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden groceries shop, The Tacons Farmshop, White House Farm, Blofield Farm Shop and Farm, Fish Fork.

For more information on how we have made the charcoal, see our first story on charcoal making. 

Three people next to a logpile, holding bags of charcoal.