After all the debate, discussion, and reams of ‘Brusseleese’ documentation, there is a fair degree of EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) fatigue out there. But if any of the audience at the Western Timber Association annual dinner in Bristol last week were sufferers, they were shaken out of it by a no-holds-barred speech from Timber Trade Federation chief executive John White.

The anti-illegal timber EUTR, he said, was about giving the market what it wants: traceability and assurance that products are what they say they are. And if anyone needed a reminder of what happens when traceability goes bad, they need look no further than the current horsemeat contamination scandal.

"It has resulted in reputational and financial damage to products, brands and the food sector as a whole," said Mr White. "And for food [post-EUTR] you can read wood."

He warned that no-one should think they can get away with it under the legislation, with the EUTR policing body, the National Measurement Office, aware of "where the issues are" and the eco NGOs also "all over it".

The TTF itself, he added would not tolerate any but the highest standards of transparency, and Federation membership would not be open to anyone who fell below them.

But it was not all dire warnings. The EUTR, said Mr White, had the potential ultimately to "buttress" wood’s technical, environmental and aesthetic appeal – a view also shared by traders in this week’s hardwood report.

On the question of relaying timber’s overall performance potential as a construction and manufacturing material, he went on to say, the industry had in some areas lagged behind its man-made rivals.

"Lacking the data to support our claims has made us hard to do business with," he said. But this was being tackled too via a range of strategies, including the overall Wood for Good campaign and its Wood First initiative, aimed at persuading government and business to give timber preferential status due to its carbon and wider performance credentials.

Now, said Mr White, without giving away too many details, another major project under the Wood First Plus banner is under way to develop a comprehensive database providing all the information needed to design, specify and use wood with confidence and security.

In terms of communicating timber’s merits, another step forward has undoubtedly been the appointment of an architect, Craig White, as the new chairman of Wood for Good.

Mr White’s own practice has been a leading exponent of wood-based construction and he is evangelical about its possibilities. The UK, he says, needs to build greener buildings more rapidly and timber is "the sustainable super material" to deliver them.

Mr White sees Wood for Good playing a key role in "educating construction and its clients about timber’s enormous potential to make transformative changes". Having him as chair should help it to fulfil that role. He not only speaks up for timber, he talks the construction industry’s language and can teach the timber sector to talk it more effectively too.

As some of the remarks in our hardwood report bear out, getting to grips with the EUTR has often been a headache. But in combination with the above initiatives, the end game should be a timber industry capable of communicating its potential with even greater conviction and clarity, backed by relevant information and even stronger assurance of legality and environmental commitment. The result of that, said John White, should be "more and more wood used in this country".