Over the past six months, we have witnessed continued demand for standing timber driven principally by high production within the sawmilling sector. With UK Sterling remaining relatively weak against the Swedish Krona and the Euro, opportunities for sawn wood export to the UK have been more limited than during previous periods and this, along with strong demand from the carcasing and fencing sector, has allowed UK sawmills to ramp up production quantities.
On Friday 25th May 2018, EGGER Hexham was proud to welcome Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, and Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, as part of a visit to the region to promote the Borderlands Growth Deal.
There to welcome them was Bob Livesey, Commercial Director at EGGER in Western Europe; John Paterson, Director of EGGER Forestry; and Tobias Zimmerman, Plant Director Technical/Production EGGER Hexham.
The document proposes three projects to stimulate the cross-border sector under the Borderlands Growth Deal:
• Creating the UK's first Forestry Investment Zone in Northumberland and Cumbria
• Introducing a Strategic Timber Transport Fund in England to match the one operating in Scotland
•Carrying out a future skills audit to ensure the industry has the people it needs to ensure future success.
The Borderlands Growth Deal covers five local authority areas - three in England (Northumberland and Cumbria County Councils and Carlisle City Council) and two in Scotland (Dumfries & Galloway Council and Scottish Borders Council).
Bob Livesey, Commercial Director at EGGER in Western Europe, said: "EGGER has invested £250 million in its Hexham site in the last decade to produce high-quality and attractive products for homes across the UK - but we need more wood to secure future market demands, investment, growth and jobs. As well as the 630 people employed directly, our factory supports around 1,800 jobs in the wider community. We need to plant more trees and get the timber to market more quickly, effectively and sensitively."
Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, who organised Mr Berry’s visit, said: “As the biggest employer in my constituency, EGGER is a very significant business in the economy of the Tyne Valley. It is also a business that recognises its wider responsibility to the local community, to the wider region, and to the whole forestry and wood processing supply chain. I’m very pleased that the Minister was able to see the factory and to receive this highly positive and constructive report on how forestry and wood processing can play a major part in the Borderlands Growth Deal.”
In order to underline the importance of the sector and EGGER as a local employer, the visit also included a short factory tour of the Control Room, Log Yard and Engineering facilities and training academy at EGGER Hexham, where the MPs had the opportunity to talk to Mechanical Engineer Steven Walker as well as apprentices and former apprentices.