21 October 2014

Joint Meeting with the APPG for the Furniture Industry. The minutes are published in full below:

21st October 2014, 1pm

Room O, PCH


Rt Hon Anne McGuire MP – in the Chair

Russell Brown MP

Susan Elan Jones MP

Guy Opperman MP

Pippa Page & Sam Popper (Office of Sir Nick Harvey MP)

Alastair Kerr (Director General of Wood Panel Industry Federation)

Paul von der Heyde (Chair of British Furniture Confederation)

Chris Emery (Kronospan Ltd)

Steve Roebuck (Norbord EU)

John Paterson (Egger UK)

Phil Reynolds & Pete Beele (FIRA)

Isabel Wilkinson, Anna Glaze-Krayer & Jonathan Sayeed (WPI APPG Secretariat)

Will Smith (Furniture Industry APPG Secretariat)


Item 1

The Rt Hon Anne McGuire MP (AM) welcomed those present and passed on apologies.

Item 2

Update from Alastair Kerr (AK), Director General of the Wood Panel Industries Federation:

AK said that the fundamental issues have not changed; government subsidies are creating a skewed economic landscape. In the last five years the volume of domestic wood being used for energy has more than doubled and could double again in the next three. There has been no new commercial softwood planting in England or Northern Ireland for five years. DECC originally forecast that 75 % of the biomass fuel for plants under 50MW would be domestic, but it is now clear that 90% of their fuel is sourced domestically; there is a high number of under 50MW plants in planning. The price of key wood types in the wood panel industry has increased by 75% since 2002. AK said it makes no sense to burn virgin timber, when doing so releases CO2; this has now been borne out by the DECC Life Cycles study. Industries should be encouraged to increase the amount of wood in construction.

Update from Paul von der Heyde (PH), Chairman of the British Furniture Confederation:

PH said that the furniture industry is now paying far more for materials; although data shows those costs flattening this is because the original increase was so severe. The furniture industry will not return to the UK while this continues. We need to lock away the carbon rather than releasing it.

Item 3 – Discussion on upcoming activity

AM asked why little progress has been made when the arguments are so well known. Jonathan Sayeed (JS) said that the fault lay with the departments having invested too much in inaccurate simple science. Steve Roebuck (SR) replied that power companies have resources which the industries cannot match.

Russell Brown MP (RB) commented that using one form of energy to produce another has never been a good idea. PH suggested that companies are using subsidies in the short term before 2027; there is no attempt to be renewable. SR said that power companies are using 2-3 million tonnes of domestic wood a year. AM emphasised the need to adapt to the new market, rather than be regressive. Peter Beele (PB) agreed, but said it was now a skewed market.

Guy Opperman MP (GO) asked whether DECC and industry figures were now in agreement. AK pointed out that the use of standing timber prices in the DECC figures were not a realistic proxy for industry subsets and do not cover the most relevant time period; the government are figures are correct, but based on the wrong information. PH offered to provide cost data from the furniture industry. AM suggested that an approach to the Treasury with the new wood price information could be useful.

GO pointed out the benefits of increased planting and suggested government intervention; John Paterson (JP) said that the commercial resources were there, but that investment is prevented by uncertainty.

GO suggested a meeting between Matt Hancock MP, himself, AM and Stephen McPartland MP.

Item 4 – AOB

There were no other items for discussion.

Agreed Actions

  1. GO offered to arrange a meeting with Matt Hancock MP; the Secretariat will support this and follow with a formal approach
  2. PH to provide data on the cost of wood for the furniture industry
  3. The Secretariat will draft a letter of approach to the Treasury regarding the wood price data

13 May 2014
Annual General Meeting

5 March 2014
Update and Strategy Planning Meeting with the APPG Chair

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