£50k boost for Islandmagee tree services business

L-R: Kelli Bagchus, MEA LAG chairperson, Karyn Brown, SPR McGowan, and Rosemary McCormick, Investment & Funding Delivery manager.
L-R: Kelli Bagchus, MEA LAG chairperson, Karyn Brown, SPR McGowan, and Rosemary McCormick, Investment & Funding Delivery manager.

An Islandmagee arboriculture business has expanded its services after receiving a grant of £50,000 from the Rural Development Programme.

SPR McGowan Tree Services provides a range of services throughout the island of Ireland including tree felling and removal, tree surveys and inspections, forestry maintenance and thinning and land clearance for construction.

The core services of the operation generate huge amounts of wood from felling trees that are deceased or damaged by weather. The business was processing the wood manually in order to turn it into firewood, however, this was proving extremely time consuming, labour intensive and not cost effective.

With the approval of the grant from the Rural Development Programme the firm has been able to purchase a firewood plant processor, which will significantly reduce the manual process as it is able to take large lengths of broad diameter trunks and perform all the cutting and splitting automatically. It also incorporates bagging and crating. This will allow for the utilisation of green waste obtained by the business and transform this into high quality firewood.

Stephen McGowan, owner of SPR McGowan, said: “The addition of the firewood processor has allowed my business to responsibly recycle waste timber. This means that I am able to convert into firewood more efficiently and expand my business. I would like to thank the Mid & East Antrim Local Action Group (LAG) board, staff team and DAERA for the funding that was available to my business.”

As a direct result of the project, the company will employ a full-time and part-time process operative. It also hopes to export to the south of Ireland in the near future.