Robin Walker, a senior minister in the British government's Brexit team, has had discussions with the Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor) on the major issues affecting the forestry and timber sector.
The discussions took place this month (February, 2017) during a visit to the BSW sawmill near Scotland's Fort William. There, Confor's chief executive Stuart Goodall took the opportunity to stress the importance of the sector, which employs almost 80,000 people across the UK and delivers £2 billion in economic value every year.
Minister for Exiting the European Union, Robin Walker, said: "The UK Government is absolutely committed to ensuring that we have the strongest possible rural economy after Brexit and forestry will be a key part of the discussions as to how we achieve that. That's why I was delighted to visit the BSW mill and to hear from Confor about their views on the upcoming negotiations and vision for the future of forestry in the UK."
Goodall said: "As the UK leaves the Common Agricultural Policy, there will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design rural policy and funding support that meets local needs. The CAP has shut forestry out, but we now have an opportunity to unlock jobs and investment, reduce the impact of climate change and flooding, and provide an array of benefits for wildlife, recreation and leisure. Forestry and wood processing’s enormous contribution to the rural areas of the UK means that it must play a central role in future Government thinking about how policy and funding structures will look after Brexit."
Hamish Macleod, head of public affairs at BSW Timber, added: "We have placed great emphasis in the last few years on working downstream with the UK construction sector to grow markets for UK timber, and we must now ensure that the business confidence is underpinned by continued commitment by UK Government in the forestry and wood processing sector. This gives us the confidence to continue to invest in our mills, creating more jobs and wealth for the communities which we serve."