Industry News

Exports of American hardwood to UK declined in 2015

As reported by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), in 2015 the volume of US sawn hardwood exports to the UK fell to 93,000 m3 from 105,000 m3 in 2014.

However, exports to the UK in 2015 were still significantly higher than in 2013 and contribute to a general, upward trend. The downturn last year was evident across all the main species exports into the UK including white oak (the species which accounts for over half the US timber sold in the UK), tulipwood and ash. Conversely, exports of walnut to the UK market continue to grow, making 2015 the sixth consecutive year of increasing exports.

On a continental scale, the economic value of US sawn hardwood exports to Europe declined by 9.9% to $277 million, while volume fell 11.1% to 348,100 m3.

Rising exports to Spain and Ireland managed to offset the declining exports to the UK, Italy, Germany, Portugal and Sweden. Despite a fall in exports of species including tulipwood and ash, the exports of white oak and red oak increased slightly.

These declines occurred at a time when European currencies weakened sharply against the dollar and there was only slow post-recession growth in key economic sectors, like construction and furniture.


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Wood for Good appoints new Campaign Director

Wood for Good has appointed Christiane Lellig as its new Campaign Director.

Wood for Good aims to increase the use of timber across all potential markets in the UK and Christiane will be be driving forward our new housing market campaign.

Based at the Building Centre in London, Christiane [in the picture on the left] will work closely with industry bodies such as the Timber Trade Federation, British Woodworking Federation, Forestry Commission Scotland, the Structural Timber Association and with Wood for Good’s supporting business partners to promote the greater use of timber.

A German national, Christiane comes with a wealth of international experience in marketing and communications in the civil engineering and environmental sector. She has previously worked with the Swiss Federal Office for Energy promoting energy efficient building construction and with building insurers marketing better structural protection against natural hazards.

Stuart Goodall, CEO of Confor and one of the Directors of Wood for Good, said: "We are genuinely excited about Christiane coming on board. She has the skills, experience and strategic approach necessary to lead the campaign as well as the confidence to engage with all relevant partners in promoting the wonders of wood. Christiane joins us as we concentrate on the role of timber in meeting the housing challenge; the need for a million new homes by 2020, which can only realistically be achieved by embracing timber and in the development of off-site construction methods."

The Campaign kicks off with a series of four inspirational conferences across Britain and the publication of ‘The Modern Timber House’ by esteemed architect Peter Wilson covering the use of timber in a range of buildings.

Wood for Good Ltd. is jointly owned by Confor (Confederation of Forest Industries) and Swedish Wood. Its funding comes from Swedish Wood, from companies within the UK timber industry and with project support from Forestry Commission Scotland.

In the recent years the campaign has achieved considerable impact in the market place by promoting the economic, environmental and societal benefits of using timber with its ‘Wood First’ and ‘Build with Carbon’ campaigns, along with a significant programme of CPD events and supporting online resources.


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CPI concerned of UK-France proposal on EU Emissions Trading System

The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) has expressed its concern on the revision of the European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) post 2020.

In particular the Paper Industry representatives have raised questions about the joint discussion paper issued by the British and French Governments. The document proposed a tiered free allocation of carbon allowances based on "questionable assessments of the extent to which specific industrial sectors are at competitive risk from carbon costs." 

"If instigated, the proposals would fully support a limited number of sectors at the expense of other sectors also exposed to carbon leakage. This is wrong, because protecting auction revenue for Member States should not be a priority, and tiered allocation is unjustified from both an economic and a fairness perspective. It penalises competitive industries investing in low-carbon technologies and hampers innovation too", claims the CPI.

The UK has 29 paper mills currently regulated through the main EU ETS scheme. An additional 11 mills are regulated through the UK opt-out scheme for small emitters, with a further five mills below the production threshold for inclusion within the EU ETS. These 40 EU ETS regulated installations emitted a total of 1.6m tonnes of fossil carbon dioxide in 2015, while a total of 1.24m free allocations were provided – a shortfall of 23%. Of the 29 UK mills currently in the main scheme, 22 were short of allowances in 2015 and seven were long. So more than three-quarters of UK mills already receive less free allocation than their emissions.

The tiered approach on European Union Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) could worsen the crisis experienced by the UK Paper Industry during the last decade.

"In 2005 (the start of EU ETS), the UK had 73 paper mills producing 6m tonnes of paper per year. By 2008 (the start of EU ETS Phase II), the UK had 59 mills producing 5m tonnes of paper. By the end of 2015, the number of mills had fallen to 45, with production down to 4m tonnes of paper", the CPI highlights.

"The UK is now the largest net importer of paper in the world, and more than half the paper collected for recycling in the UK is exported for recycling elsewhere – a massive missed opportunity for job and wealth creation in the UK."


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BMF MD John Newcomb elected to CPA Executive Committee

John Newcomb, Managing Director of the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), has been elected Officer of the Construction Products Association (CPA).

He will hold the non-executive position of Vice-Chairman on the CPA’s Executive Committee. Mr Newcomb will also continue to sit on the CPA’s Trade Association Council, formed of senior personnel from member trade associations.

CPA CEO Diana Montgomery said: "The BMF and its members play a valuable role in the construction materials supply chain. I have no doubt that John will be a valuable asset on the CPA Executive Committee, and look forward to working with him.”

Commenting on his appointment, John Newcomb underlined: “I am a great supporter of the CPA which plays an essential role supporting the interests of UK construction product manufacturers and suppliers, many of whom are BMF members. I am looking forward to playing a full role on the Executive Committee.”


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Confor publishes EU discussion paper to foster debate in Westminster

The Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) has published a discussion paper - available here - highlighting the key issues the forestry sector needs to consider ahead of the EU referendum in June.

The paper, written by Guy Watt of John Clegg Consulting, has been discussed today at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry in Westminster.

The document examines six main areas where decisions made at European level have direct or indirect impacts on the forestry and timber industry: - Direct Financial Support from the EU; - Regulations, Red Tape & Bureaucracy;- Trade; - Plant Health; - Labour Market & Controlling UK Borders; - The Economy.

The discussion paper also gives consideration to the data coming from the Confor poll on Brexit. According to the Confederation online survey, 52 per cent of the voters is currently in favour of remaining a member of the European Union, while 48 per cent says they would prefer to leave.

Almost one-third (31 per cent) of the survey participants thinks to not have received enough information on the EU referendum - and even the discussion paper's author concludes that "there are some facts for people to use, but there are also plenty of unknowns".

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, commented: "This short paper sets down the issues in a dispassionate and straightforward way. We know that our members have a range of views on whether the UK should remain part of, or leave, the European Union - and we also know that some of them think there is not enough information available to make a clear decision. That's why we commissioned this discussion paper, which will hopefully provide some helpful background and assist them in making an informed decision."


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