A warmer, wetter climate is now inevitable says Defra. As a consequence, BSI has identified 13 climate change impacts on standards that need to be addressed. This is likely to mean that wood protection, far from being an optional extra, becomes an essential specification. The recently-launched Wood for Good Timber Industry Manifesto unites our industry with a common purpose like never before.

If wood is to realise its potential as the sustainable, low carbon material of “first choice” then the full potential of conferring durability and performance appropriate for the end use must also be realised.

The Wood Protection Association (WPA) operations embrace not only industrial wood preservation but also modified wood technology and fire retardants. Since 2008, the association has operated with independent management focused on actions to build confidence in wood protection technology and on meeting the interests of stakeholders in all sectors of the industry. Current activities include a successful campaign to ensure creosote remains an option for treating wood; the development of a specification manual for fire retardants which includes a check list to help designers avoid the safety consequences of choosing a flame retardant that does not have the appropriate test data to back up performance claims. The WPA is also working with UKTFA on new fire testing and guidance to support the timber frame sector; new specification manuals are also imminent for modified wood and industrial wood preservation.

The use of copper/organic biocide preservatives for Use Class 4 has been a core priority for the last two years. This has seen new guidance for the treatment of spruce published and the start of a review of the guidance in BS 8417 together with a recent agreement for new industry field test trials with BRE to help further assess performance.

Shortly, WPA Benchmark, a quality assurance scheme for treated wood will be launched. It has been developed with major guidance from timber treater members and the first verification audits are under way. WPA Benchmark certificated fencing products should start to appear in the UK market early next year.