A campaign to secure the long-term future of the wood panel industry has been launched by the Wood Panel Industry Federation (WPIF).
According to the WPIF, its industry is facing tough competition for wood as biomass plants are increasingly buying up material for feedstock. The WPIF believes the Government’s renewable obligation scheme, which provides an incentive for people to build more renewable energy facilities, “has significantly distorted the already fragile supply and demand balance for this limited resource.”
The Make Wood Work campaign, aims to lobby the Government on:
· Modifying the Renewable Obligation Certificate banding to stop it distorting the market
· Ban wood from going to landfill
· Focus the ROCs on the expansion of non-wood fuels and fast-rotation crops, which the WPIF claim have a greater potential to reduce carbon emissions
· Only burn wood for energy that can no longer be recycled or reused
· Recognise the wood panel industry’s contribution to UK renewable heat generation by including it in the renewable heat incentive scheme.
WPIF director general Alastair Kerr said: “If nothing is done to amend this [renewable energy] policy, wood prices could potentially rise to a point where they meet that paid by generators for imported material. This will put thousands of jobs in the UK wood panel and associated industries at risk and has the potential to escalate costs for the construction and furniture industries. Consumers of UK-sourced products, who are already paying for the subsidy through their electricity bills, cannot escape the impact of this distortion.”
Independent research commissioned by the WPIF and carried out by Europe Economics found up to 8,700 jobs would be lost if the wood panel industry were to disappear today. The report, The Wood Panel Industry in the UK, found that if large-scale wood fired power generators demand is encouraged to develop “unchecked” the sawmilling sector could also be affected. Another report carried out by Carbon River found if the biomass industry were to replace the wood panel industry there would be a 1% increase of the UK’s annual total CO2 emissions.
The WPIF believes there has been a 30% average wood price increase over the last four years.