Organised by Confor, the visit and meeting provided the opportunity to impress upon the shadow minister the significance of the industry to areas like the far north of England and to discuss the importance of future wood supply for future investment, including through woodland creation.

“Toby has taken a real interest in the industry, and he can see that when businesses in the sector have confidence in the future, they have a track record of investing hundreds of millions of pounds in areas like Northumberland and Cumbria, securing and creating thousands of jobs,” said Stuart Goodall, Confor CEO.

As well as a tour of the impressive Egger facility, Mr Perkins discussed issues of timber security, the reliance of the bulk of the industry on softwood, and the benefit of using more home-grown wood, especially in house building and construction.

The discussion also ranged across recruiting new people into the industry, including diversifying the workforce, training, opportunities for farmers to create new productive woodland and the importance of woodland creation of fast-growing trees for net zero.

“We hope to take Toby out to see forestry at work in southern England where issues like squirrel and deer control are particularly important and maintain a dialogue with the Labour Party,” said Mr Goodall. “There is only a small team in Confor to represent the sector across the UK, so I was very grateful that so many members gave their time to meet with Toby, and that Alastair Kerr of the Wood Panel Industry Federation was able to join us. There is a lot of work to do ahead of the General Election and active member support will be vital.”