Wood panel industry raising awareness of challenges

Representatives of the UK’s wood panel sector have met with politicians to discuss challenges facing their industry.

An expert working group has been set up by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Wood Panel Industry and industry members, Norbord, Kronospan and Egger. A report will be prepared for the APPG to inform members in their discussions with Ministers.

The working group discussed the challenges faced by the wood panel sector as a result of the lack of security of domestic wood supply; the impact of the biomass industry on the availability of wood to work with; and how the industry will meet UK demand for wood panel products post Brexit. Both the working group and APPG are chaired by Stirling MP, Stephen Kerr.

Alastair Kerr, director general of the Wood Panel industries Federation (WPIF), said:

“Maintaining a positive wood supply balance throughout the year is crucial to members’ businesses, so it’s important that we’re involved in discussions around the supply issues facing the sector. The expert group will develop policy proposals that will help to support the sector and the industries it feeds into, including construction, furniture, packaging and transport. I hope that our contribution of the expert group will help to address some of the current issues and preserve the longevity of the sector.”

Together, the WPIF’s members – Norbord, EGGER and Kronospan – have a combined GVA in excess of £850m a year with 7,500 direct and indirect jobs dependent on the industry.

Stephen Kerr MP said:

“I’m very proud to be chair of this expert working group which seeks to raise some important issues with parliament. Our discussions so far have given me a fantastic insight into the issues facing an industry that is so important to my constituency in Stirling. It’s great to hear facts and opinions from industry representatives who are at the forefront of wood panel supply and manufacturing, and it’s clear that there is significant work to be done in terms of preserving this sector for the future. I’m looking forward to working with the members of the group to formulate proposals which we will present to parliament.”

Other group members include Rt Hon Brian Wilson, former UK Energy Minister and now member of the UK Board of Trade; George McRobbie, managing director of Tillhill Forestry; Ian Ross, former chairman of Scottish National Heritage and chartered forester; David Sulman, executive director of the United Kingdom Forest Products Association (UKFPA). Industry representatives Steve Roebuck, director EHS at Norbord; John Paterson, director at EGGER Forestry, and Chris Emery, timber procurement manager at Kronospan were invited to give evidence.

The wood panel manufacturing sector currently uses the equivalent of 25 per cent of the 11 million tons of wood delivered from UK forestry every year, with WPIF members suppling approximately 65 per cent of the total UK annual consumption of wood-based panels.

Products, including OSB (oriented strand board), MDF (medium density fibreboard) and chipboard, are supplied to some of the UK’s biggest brands including B&Q, Jewson and Wickes.

For further information, call 01786 812 921 or visit www.norbord.co.uk