The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) says it is pleased with increasingly widespread understanding of the effects of subsidising the biomass industry, as a result of more extensive media coverage of this issue.

The organisation, which represents UK packaging and pallet manufacturers, says its own efforts, and those of other timber-based industries, and a number of high-profile news stories, have led to growing consideration of the potential damage that artificial support for biomass projects can cause to both the UK economy and to the environment.

TIMCON President, John Dye, said: “The wood-based industries include many of UK’s most sustainable and environmentally friendly companies, and employ a substantial number of people – there are approximately 30,000 jobs provided by our sector alone. Together, we are channelling significant resources into ensuring that customers, politicians and even the general public understand the great benefits of using this material and negative impact of the current biomass system.

“In addition to this, a number of prominent events have given us a platform to highlight the advantages of wood and our concerns about biomass to a wide audience. These include the demonstration by workers at the Kronospan wooden panel factory concerned about biomass subsidies threatening their jobs at the end of last year, and early in 2011, the furore surrounding Government proposals to lease off publicly-owned forests, which had they been progressed could have seen forests felled for biomass projects.

“On the face of it, subsidising biomass may appear to be good for the environment; however, the practice instead encourages the burning of solid, carbon-storing wood, which would have a much longer and beneficial lifespan being used in manufacture. By diverting essential supplies from manufacturing, subsidies also damage the economy, dramatically increasing the price of essential and environmentally friendly products such as timber pallets and packaging. We are alarmed to see predictions that if demand subsidised by the biomass industry grows to the size forecast, the price of timber could rise to more than double current levels in the near to medium term. This would clearly have the knock on effect of increasing prices of end products to customers.

“We are pleased that the timber industry is beginning to get the attention it deserves and key parties are beginning to grasp the realities of the biomass issue. The next step for us is to ensure that this understanding is backed up with positive action and a change in current policy.”


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