Timber industry hosts its first Net Zero event in Scottish Parliament

Timber industry hosts its first Net Zero event in Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Timber Trade Association (STTA) brought the timber and wood products industry together at Holyrood for the first time on the 30th April to host a reception about driving Net Zero awareness and timber’s benefits to the economy.

Along with three other leading timber and wood products organisations, Confor, Timber Development UK, and the Structural Timber Association (STA), the STTA invited more than 40 businesses operating in the timber and wood product industry supply chain to meet with MSPs and discuss the critical role it plays in the economy, and its place in supporting the drive to Net Zero.

The reception was sponsored by Fergus Ewing MSP and Willie Rennie MSP, who each spoke about the benefits of timber as a low carbon construction product; how timber planting, processing, and use in construction creates skilled career opportunities and supports employment in rural areas; and how Scottish Government policies on tree planting can support the long-term future of the industry.

It is estimated that the built environment is responsible for 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions, and the construction industry contributes 60% of the waste produced in the country. As the UK Government announced its Timber in Construction Roadmap last year to boost UK construction and reduce emissions, timber is identified as the solution to creating high-quality, sustainable homes. Use of timber can reduce the embodied emissions in a single building by 20% to 60%, and carbon storage is approximately 50% higher in timber framed homes than in masonry homes.

Alex Goodfellow, CEO of Offsite at the Donaldson Group and STA board member, spoke about Scotland’s need to increase the production of timber as global demand grows, and to preserve jobs for the future. These topics also impact the UK more widely. In 2023, the UK Government introduced a target to increase the tree canopy and woodland cover in England to 16.5% by 2050. The increased safe use of timber in construction in England will create an opportunity to increase demand for domestic timber.

Speaking about the event, Alex Goodfellow said: “The reception was the first time the timber industry has gathered at Holyrood to discuss sustainability and how timber in construction supports the drive to Net Zero. Scotland excels at timber production, and we lead the UK in the use of timber frame construction, both of which support the country’s economy and sustainability goals. However, more production is needed.

“Global demand for timber is increasing and we predict that based on current production levels, we will be fighting for product by 2050. There is ample scope for increasing productive woodland in Scotland and especially as we promote increased use of timber across the rest of the UK, we have a great opportunity to further support the Scottish economy through the supply of this low carbon construction product.”

Crawford Churchill, STTA President, commented: “As timber is increasingly recognised for its structural applications as well as its sustainability, it is important that we continue to advocate for both its production and its use in Scotland. As a low embodied carbon material that can be repaired, reused, and recycled, it has a vital role to play in construction here and across the UK. Bringing the industry together with policymakers at Holyrood in an important step in this process.”

Mr. Fergus Ewing MSP said: “The timber trade sector does a great job for Scotland and is vitally important. We must substantially increase productive timber plantings and see timber used more in construction here and south of the border. We should work cooperatively with the UK Government on this endeavour. This meeting is a great chance to meet key players, hear their ideas and help MSPs understand how important is the work STTA members do.”

Mr. Wille Rennie MSP added: “This is an opportunity for parliamentarians to fully understand this important sector, what makes it a success and what government needs to do to allow it to make an even larger contribution to jobs and the economy. There’s been much talk about tree planting from ministers to tackle climate change and biodiversity which is right, but we also need to understand that for construction purposes we also need to plant the right type of trees in the right numbers and ensure the supply chain and sector is working effectively.”

Header image from left to right: Nicola Aitken, STTA; Willie Rennie MSP; Alex Goodfellow, Donaldson Group; Fergus Ewing MSP; David Hopkins, TDUK; and Stuart Goodall, Confor.

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