Scottish environment minister Michael Russell has challenged the recently-formed wood fuel task force to boost the biomass sector and increase rural job prospects.

Launched in June, the Forestry Commission Scotland-led task force has the responsibility of increasing the supply of wood to renewable energy production.

However, along with the core task, Mr Russell has now called on it to boost jobs in rural Scotland, as well as help tackle climate change.

“We recognise the wide range of benefits that biomass has the potential to deliver,” said Mr Russell. “This includes creating jobs in rural economies, increasing renewable energy production, which will help tackle climate change, and utilising waste materials.”

Mr Russell added that he wanted the task force to “act as the catalyst to turn this potential into reality” and that he was looking forward to its recommendations, which are due to be tabled in December.