Rising fuel costs are squeezing the bottom line of timber traders who are already having to deal with weakening timber prices.

This week, the average price of diesel in the UK was over 120p per litre, with some forecourts retailing it nearer 135p.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA), Forestry Contracting Association (FCA) and Timber Transport Forum all voiced concern at the rising cost of fuel.

“Every penny on the price of fuel adds £140m in fuel costs for UK industry,” said Geoff Dossetter, head of external affairs at the FTA.

“For members involved in the haulage of timber, the additional costs involved in operating their businesses are rising, in some cases, by several hundred pounds per week per vehicle,” said Steve Reynolds from the FCA.

The rise has been felt across the trade, with one source telling TTJ’s chipboard market report that “moving board around the UK has become an expensive hobby”.

Howie Forest Products and Howarth Timber Group reported their haulage costs had increased by more than 10% in the last six months.

“Alongside our own fleet of vehicles, which range from 7.5-tonne to 44-tonne outfits, we also work with owner-driver operators who are demanding increases to cover their additional fuel costs,” said Justin Smith from Howarth.

“The volatility in fuel prices means that subcontractors will no longer accept agreed rates – like us, they can never predict what their costs will be.”

“Generally timber prices are static and even weakening, which means that fuel increases are coming straight off the bottom line,” added Keith Ainslie, sales director at Howie.