For "operators" placing timber on the EU market under the regulation, an enormous amount of legwork and due diligence work has been going on to make sure that timber and plywood imports are purchased from legal sources.

Going to the RAF Club on Piccadilly at the start of July for the latest London Hardwood Club EUTR presentation by the UK enforcement body of the legislation – the National Measurement and Regulation Office (NMRO) – was an opportunity to assess how it’s all been going.

Registrations numbers for the event had been so high that the venue had to be changed to accommodate them.

Both UK and continental European hardwood traders, including all the largest players, were in attendance.

The good news is that UK timber companies are taking it seriously, are looking carefully at their supply sources and in some cases engaging in scientific testing of their timber to make sure it is kosher. In some cases they have been changing suppliers to ensure EUTR compliance.

But there was a surprising admission by the NMRO’s EUTR enforcement policy officer Michael Worrell.

He said he couldn’t see a scenario where the agency would prosecute a timber company and bring a case to court as there was was no foolproof way of proving the timber involved in a case was definitely illegally sourced.

Ever since the EUTR was first mooted, there has been a lot of talk over what the possible sanctions could be for timber importers falling foul of the regulation.

Heavy fines and even imprisonment were some of the possibilities being banded about when the regulation was being formulated.

Such a statement by the NMRO could make it look like a paper tiger and I was surprised to hear it.

But in truth there are other options available to the NMRO – visits, warning letters, remedial action requests and the threat of product confiscation to name a few.

And of course there is the reputational threat posed to a timber operator who does not heed the missives of the official enforcement agency.

What is clear is that the regulation has been costing timber operators a lot of time and money – one boss told me before the meeting that his annual cost of complying with the EUTR was pushing £100,000. If the economic environment was less buoyant, he said that would probably mean losing a few jobs to pay for it.

Moving on, I’d like to take the opportunity to remind companies that there is still time to enter most of the judged categories in the TTJ Awards. You can find out more details by visiting

Don’t lose this opportunity!