An expert working group looking at the contribution of the wood panel industry, has been launched at an event in Westminster.
The announcement was made as the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF), which includes Norbord, hosted a reception to mark the reconstitution of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Wood Panel Industry.
The working group will be chaired by Stephen Kerr, MP for Stirling and Alastair Kerr, Director General of the WPIF, will be the working group’s secretary, with further members to be announced in coming weeks.
The group will report to the APPG, and its findings will be presented to Claire Perry MP, Minister of State for Business and Energy, in the autumn.
It will assess the challenges facing the sector due to lack of security of domestic wood supply, how the industry can meet 100% of UK demand for wood panel products post Brexit, and how it can coexist with the wood processing and wood fuels sectors which also rely on a finite wood source.
The wood panel manufacturing sector is said to currently use 25% of the 11 million tons of wood delivered from UK forestry every year, with WPIF members suppling approximately 65% of the total UK annual consumption of wood-based panels.
Together, WPIF’s members – Norbord, EGGER and Kronospan – employ 2,316 full-time staff at plants in Cowie (Stirlingshire), Inverness, Auchinleck (Ayrshire), Hexham (Cumbria), Chirk (North Wales) and South Molton (North Devon), and have a combined GVA in excess of £850m a year. More than a further 5,000 jobs are dependent on the sector in associated industries.
Stephen said: “I am delighted to announce that I will be chairing an expert working group to consider the contribution made by the wood panel sector to the UK economy. Our group will assess the challenges facing the sector due to the lack of security in wood supply, how the industry can meet 100% of UK demand for wood panel products post Brexit, and how it can co-exist with the wood processing and wood fuel sectors who also rely on the UK’s finite wood basket.”
Alastair added: “As an industry, we are increasingly struggling to source a sustainable supply of forest roundwood and thinnings, sawmill products and recycled wood. Over the coming months we will be developing proposals that will support the sector, and through it industries including construction, furniture, packaging and transport, as we look to maintain our contribution to the UK economy into the future.”