Industry News

'New London Plan Policy is great step forward for sustainable housebuilding', says Wood For Good

Wood For Good has expressed its satisfaction with the new London planning regulations, capable of "bringing back the need for zero-carbon residential development in the capital."

The Greater London Authority announced a new zero carbon homes policy earlier this year. It comes after the Government scrapped its zero-carbon 2016 targets at the end of last year.

Housing in the capital will now need to meet new standards for zero-carbon development or pay cash to a carbon offset fund.

The news comes as infrastructure consultancy firm Arcadis ranks the UK capital as the fifth most sustainable city in the world in its 2016 Sustainable Cities Index. The capital beat the UK’s other largest cities in the ranking — suggesting that the other regions need to be doing more to contribute to the country’s climate change reduction goals.

Christiane Lellig, Campaign Director at Wood for Good, said: “The new London Plan Policy is a great step forward for sustainable housebuilding in the capital following the scrapping of Zero Carbon Homes last year. London’s dense built environment creates challenges to delivering carbon-neutral homes but the industry needs to look beyond traditional building methods.

“There needs to be a paradigm shift in thinking towards greater use of off-site construction using timber. This would ensure that sustainability is incorporated right into developments through the material’s strong environmental credentials.”


[News URL:]

GIB WoodStock project shows UK hardwood production could jump by 20% in short term

Grown In Britain (GIB) has recently published its WoodStock project final report highlighting some great opportunities for UK hardwood sector.

Britain currently consumes over ½ million m3 of hardwood each year, much of which are species that grow in the UK, but less than 10% of this is obtained from UK sources. GIB research reveals that a 20% increase in UK production is quite possible in the short term, with a 100% plus increase possible over the medium term.

According to Grown In Britain report, a staggering 400,000 cubic metres could be available every single year for 40 years without reducing the overall stock still standing in the woods.

Further research revealed that many of the imported hardwood timber species have alternatives available in the UK forests. Moreover, in most cases, there is believed to be sufficient quality logs available in British woodlands to meet the UK demand.

In details, GIB report focuses on five key UK species:

  • Ash – UK Ash is the same species as that currently imported from the continent, and UK White Ash has a similar appearance and properties to American White Ash. UK Ash also has the added advantage of coming in a slightly darker Olive Ash. It can also be used for many internal joinery applications, and when thermally modified, can be used externally. Current imports of Ash amount to approximately 25,000m3 per annum, however there is potential for the UK to supply over 70,000m3 per annum.
  • Beech – UK Beech is the same species as that currently imported from the continent. Current imports of Beech amount to approximately 40,000m3 per annum, and this could potentially be met by a UK supply.
  • Oak – UK Oak is the same species as that currently imported from the continent, and has a similar appearance and properties to American White Oak. Current imports of Oak are approximately 268,000 m3 per annum. However there are currently insufficient quantities of quality Oak logs in UK woodlands to meet all internal demand.
  • Sweet Chestnut – UK imports very little Sweet Chestnut. Current UK supply is approximately 1,000m3 per annum, but this could be increased to as much as 49,000m3.
  • Sycamore – Again, UK imports very little sycamore, but many are unaware that this is a species of Maple. Britain currently imports approximately 5,000m3 of Maple from the US, and this could easily be met from UK supplies, with the potential for 39,000m3 per annum.

Grown In Britain report also shows that - although much has been lost over the last 50 years - there is still sufficient sawmilling capacity to cope with an increase in production. We spoke to 29 saw mills in the UK, of which 14 were still sawing logs. It was found that the current throughput could be increased from just under 26,000m3 per annum to over 53,000m3 per annum without any significant investment in machinery, a 100% increase. However, there would be a need to increase the skills base in this area to cope with this increase in demand.

As for kilning capacity, 14 of the 29 sawmills were still kiln drying timber, and again this was not at capacity for most. It was found that the current throughput could be increased from around 15,000m3 per annum to around 24,000m3 per annum without any investment in new kilns, a 60% increase. This capacity could be increased further quite quickly with investment in new kilns.

"We clearly have sufficient timber stocks and infrastructure capacity to supply greater quantities of hardwood timber, so why is this not happening?", wrote Grown In Britain researchers. "Talking to some of the major timber merchants, they do not want to deal with the many individual sawmills able to supply this timber; it is far easier for them to deal with one consolidation yard in the USA for example. Therefore there is a need for a single point of contact for the merchants where timber stocks from the saw mills around the UK can be purchased. The Grown in Britain WoodStock project is proposing just this, in the form of an online virtual Buying Platform that can pool the available stocks in saw mills around the country and offer this for purchase."

"To conclude, it is clear that there is a demand for the hardwood timber species we grow in the UK, and that much of this could be supplied from a home grown supply instead of being imported. We just need to work together to get this hardwood into the supply chain".

The complete report is available here.


[News URL:]

Construction buoyant despite Brexit fears and ONS stats, show BMF Statistics

There are few signs that Brexit has negatively impacted the construction industry according to the latest figures from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI). 

As shown by the BMF Statistics, timber and joinery products are among the best performing products, reporting a 11.8% sales increase. 

Overall like-for-like sales (allowing for two extra trading days) were up 2.8%. Year to date sales grew 5.4%.

ONS statistics, released today, suggest construction output decreased by 1.5% in August.  Whilst these are a different and broader measure of the construction sector, the contrast with BMBI figures, which relate to building materials, is startling.  

BMF Managing Director, John Newcomb, commented: "We are surprised by the ONS figures as they do not reflect what we see happening in the building materials industry.  We believe that the BMBI figures more accurately show the strength of the sector as they correlate to future output.  Put simply, for a brick to be laid, it first has to be supplied and purchased."

“There is lots of speculation on the impact of Brexit on the economy as a whole and on construction, so we are very encouraged to see sales growth of over 13% in August, which shows that our industry is still strong and in robust health”.

Below you can find a summary table of BMBI statistics for August 2016 and year to date.  


[News URL:]

FLEGT VPA has not stopped illegal logging in Congo, says environmental NGO Fern

Systemic illegalities persist in the Republic of Congo’s (RoC) forest sector, despite the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) signed with the EU to combat illegal timber trade, claims the environmental NGO Fern.

In fact, according to the RoC’s Independent Monitor of the implementation of forest law and governance, six new logging permits were awarded in January 2016 to several companies in violation of the country’s laws and regulations.

"Local civil society organisations, including Fern’s partner Forum pour le Gouvernance et les Droits Humains, believe that this is a serious breach of the VPA and a setback for the ongoing reforms intended to increase transparency and accountability in the management of the country’s vast forests", Fern spokespeople say.

Fern has joined these groups in calling on the Congolese government to work closely with the EU to implement the VPA and to end impunity in the forest sector.

The NGO has also asked the EU and Member States, in accordance with the EU Timber Regulation, to be diligent in ensuring that no illegally harvested timber and forest products from the RoC enter the EU market.


[News URL:]

Head of Centre for Wood Science and Technology Dan Ridley-Ellis wins 2016 Woodland Hero Award

Dan Ridley-Ellis, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University has been awarded the 2016 Woodland Hero Prize.

The award - designed and promoted by Grown in Britain - aims to raise awareness on the importance of getting Britain’s woodlands back into management.

By showcasing the stories and people behind British woods, Grown in Britain hopes to inspire others to get the 42% of the UK’s currently unmanaged woodlands working again.

Woodland Hero 2016 winner Mr Ridley-Ellis is Head of the Centre for Wood Science and Technology at Edinburgh Napier University. His research focuses on understanding the growth and utilisation of domestically grown timber including how this may be affected by our changing environment.

During the award ceremony hosted by BRE, Dougal Driver CEO of  Grown in Britain said: “Dan and his team have carried out vital research on the properties of timber grown in the British Isles and in particular the factors that affect the quality of sawn timber for construction. He is a world expert on timber grading, resource assessment and segregation of timber into the most appropriate markets and we are fortunate to have him on The GiB ‘team’ and leading the charge for homegrown timber”

“The Woodland Hero award is aimed at the people who make things happen whether in the public gaze or more hidden in the vital work behind the scenes. Dan’s work on standards, grading and British Standards is largely unseen, and we want to change that as he is a true Grown in Britain Woodland Hero”

Mr Ridley-Ellis commented: ” I am part of a great team with fantastic support from numerous partners, growers and sawmills in the UK. It is great to get this recognition from Grown in Britain who are creating more and more demand for homegrown timber which makes our work ever more important and rewarding.”


[News URL:]