Britain has 232 new MPs after the general election, and the coalition government is busy constructing its strategy for the five years ahead. This is an essential time for the timber sector to engage with politicians and ensure they are well versed in the positive impact of our industry on employment and the environment.

The Queen’s speech on May 25 outlined an Energy and Green Economy Bill. It aims to increase energy efficiency in homes and businesses and secure energy supplies, while maintaining a low carbon economy.

One of the issues in which we promptly need to foster greater understanding and inform policy makers is biomass. The Timber Pallet & Packaging Confederation (TIMCON) supports any strategy that includes using natural fuels. However, we oppose subsidies that will encourage diversion of vital timber supplies from commercial uses for burning immediately.

The original aim of subsidies was to encourage incremental harvesting of biomass from thinnings of marginal land, which makes good economic and environmental sense. However, the policy has evolved – unintentionally, we believe – so it now also supports burning of small logs, rather than processing them as we do in the packaging and pallet industry.

Instead, policy must focus on encouraging existing uses for timber so the maximum benefit is gleaned from this carbon-storing material before it’s used as fuel.

TIMCON recently became a stakeholder in the ePolitix system, which is used by MPs and their researchers on a regular basis to gather information and opinions from industry at large. This enables us to communicate directly with those who will play a major role in determining the future of the British timber industry. We will use it to highlight facts about issues such as biomass, and the role timber can play in the development of an efficient, green economy.

Engaging with government is the latest work TIMCON, which represents most of the British packaging and pallets industry, carries out for its members. It will enable politicians to make informed decisions when working on the policies that will affect timber in the years to come.