Forestry and wood processing ‘crucial to Borderlands Growth Deal’
The forestry and wood processing industry must be at the heart of a deal to revitalise the economy on both sides of the England/Scotland border, according to a new report.
Forestry and Wood Processing in the Borderlands Growth Deal was presented to Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, when he visited EGGER, the largest manufacturing employer in Northumberland. More than 630 people work at EGGER’s chipboard plant in Hexham.
The report stresses the significance of forestry and wood processing in Northern England and Southern Scotland in creating employment and driving economic growth and investment – and says it should be a central part of the Borderlands Growth Deal.
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.”
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).
Forestry and wood processing ‘crucial to borderlands growth deal’