The UK timber industry associations’ Accord was signed last month by the 11 trade organizations representing the UK’s forestry and timber industries. The agreement formalises the growing spirit of collaboration that has been fostered between our sectors.

These associations have been brought closer by the significant threat posed to timber supplies by the subsidies to energy companies to burn logs as biomass.

TIMCON is concerned because small logs are being specifically targeted for biomass; this situation will get much worse if the large, government-subsidised power plants are given the go-ahead.

The packaging and pallet industry uses 1.5 million m3 of timber – mainly from UK sources – every year; we use about 25% of sawn timber production. Our sector forms a part of a well-balanced, efficient and environmentally-friendly cascade model which, together with other timber industries, means every useful part of a harvested tree can be used. Take away supplies from just one of these outlets and the entire economics of production of sawn timber will be jeopardised.

Consider substitution for the two main alternatives, plastics and corrugated paper. The former being a non-renewable material is an environmental disaster; the latter does not add the same environmental benefits or support to the sawmilling industry as timber. Neither material can offer the significant carbon storage benefits of reusable, repairable and recyclable timber pallets and packaging.

Historically, TIMCON’s vital role has not been fully appreciated by the wider forestry industry. However, this closer co-operation with associations that include the TTF, Confor, UK Forest Products Industry and the Wood Panel Industries Federation is changing this perception. We are very encouraged by this constructive development between these parties. There will be long-term benefits to all through this close dialogue – well beyond tackling the issue of biomass.

It demonstrates that adversity pulls people together when they find a common cause. The rightness of our arguments and the serious threat to the UK’s vital industries and the jobs they provide, make this an important fight.