Small brick maker HG Matthews is to switch from oil to biofuel for brick production because of increasingly high energy prices.

"Oil prices have doubled in the past two years so it forces you to look at alternatives," said Jim Matthews, managing director.

The company, which makes 2.5 million bricks a year, has carried out successful experiments with biofuel burners to fire bricks and intends to produce biofuel on its own farm.

It will try the technology this summer with a view to switching in the winter. This is not the first time it has had to take action to reduce the effect of high fuel prices. The oil price shocks of the 1970s prompted it to stop using oil to dry its bricks. Instead it dries them naturally during the summer.

Other brick makers are also feeling the pinch. Last month Baggeridge Brick warned gas prices were expected to have a negative impact on profit for the first half of the financial year to 31 March.