2007

112144 – Wood Supplies – 30 January 2007

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment his Department has made of the potential impact on UK wood supplies for large-scale use as fuel of the introduction of the Large Combustion Plant Directive in 2008; and if he will make a statement. [112144]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department does not consider that the Large Combustion Plant Directive is a significant factor affecting the use of biomass for energy generation, or the operation of the wood panel industry. That industry has, however, expressed concern about co-firing.

117536 – Tree Planting – 1 February 2007

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government plan to increase the incentives for new plantations of trees; and if he will make a statement. [117536]

Barry Gardiner[holding answer 30 January 2007]: The English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) provides grants to establish new multi-purpose woodlands providing public benefits. The incentives offered through EWGS over the next few years will be influenced by the outcome of the refreshed England Forestry Strategy, the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and the budget that is agreed for the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13.

111870/111871 – Wood Fibre – 1 February 2007

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department is taking with the wood fibre and supply industry to identify sources of wood fibre other than coniferous roundwood and sawmill co-products; [111870]

(2) what support the Department is offering to the wood fibre and supply industry to develop new and sustainable wood supply chains. [111871]

Barry Gardiner: The 2004 UK Woodfuel Resource Study looked at the potential supply from sources including coniferous and broadleaved woodland, sawmill co-products, arboricultural arisings and short rotation coppice. In England it estimated that there was a potential resource of over 0.5 million tonnes of arboricultural arisings. In addition it is estimated that there is an annual increment of 4 million tonnes of wood, particularly from under-managed broadleaved woodland, that is not currently harvested.

The England Woodfuel Strategy being prepared by the Forestry Commission will make a number of recommendations aimed at increasing the demand for this wood fibre, which is in turn expected to help the development of supply chains, with potential benefits to all wood-using industries.

Through the Forestry Commission we work with the timber industry and timber-using businesses to raise awareness of the role and versatility of wood which is a sustainable resource. For example, supporting the Wood for Good campaign. Generating increased demand is likely to benefit the supply chain.

111872 – Wood Fibre – 1 February 2007

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the potential demand for wood fibre balance in the UK in each of the next two years. [111872]

Barry Gardiner: I have not made any estimate of demand. Based on our forecasts of production and knowledge extrapolated from past information on consumption we believe that it is unlikely there will be a significant change in demand in the short term. With less than 20 per cent. of UK wood and wood product consumption coming from trees grown in the UK, any changes in demand may have more impact on imports than on UK production.

117714 – Woodland – 1 February 2007

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much coniferous woodland has been planted in the UK during the last 10 years. [117714]

Barry Gardiner: The total areas of conifer planting (new planting and restocking) over the last 10 years for each country and the UK total are given in the following tables. See full PQ for tables.

117715 – Woodlands – 1 February 2007

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government plan to increase the area of coniferous woodland planted. [117715]

Barry Gardiner: The English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) provides grants to establish new multi-purpose woodlands providing public benefits, including biodiversity and social benefits. The UK Forestry Standard, which underpins the EWGS, requires the choice of species to be suited to the site conditions taking into account silvicultural and environmental needs as well as management objectives.

In recent years around 5 to 10 per cent. of the total new woodland area planted has been with conifers. The extent and type of planting over the next five to 10 years will be influenced by the outcome of the refreshed England Forestry Strategy, the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007 and the budget that is agreed for the Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13.

117698 – Energy Crops – 2 February 2007

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much of the wood fuel intake for the (a) Middlesbrough and (b) Lockerbie biomass energy plants is sourced from (i) existing woodlands and (ii) dedicated sources of energy crops; and what forecast he has made of trends in such sourcing over the next 10 years. [117698]

Ian Pearson: Both the Teesside and Lockerbie biomass energy plants are still under construction. Both are in receipt of grant funding from the Big Lottery under the Bioenergy Capital Grants Scheme. The grants do not require that a specific amount of feedstock should be sourced from existing woodland, but there is a requirement that the fuel supply includes a minimum proportion of energy crops.

In his statement on 12 December 2006, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (David Miliband) confirmed the Government’s intention to continue to support energy crop planting under the next Rural Development Programme for England (2007-13). This is also the case for Scotland.

Forestry Commission England intend to publish a woodfuel strategy which will address the issue of increasing woodfuel available from existing woodlands. In Scotland the Scottish Executive is about to publish its biomass action plan and this will lay out its proposals for developing the bioenergy sector in Scotland. Long-term availability of biomass will also be considered in the UK biomass strategy which the Government intend to publish before May 2007.

Officials from Defra and the Forestry Commission hold regular discussions with those involved with feedstock procurement for these projects.

118631 – Wood Fibre – 19 February 2007

Mr. Tim Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent meetings he has held with stakeholders to discuss the forecast increase in demand for wood fibre by the renewable energy industry; and what action he plans to take in response to the situation. [118631]

Barry Gardiner: Forestry Commission England intend to publish a woodfuel strategy which will address the issue of increasing woodfuel available from existing woodlands. In Scotland the Scottish Executive is about to publish its Biomass Action Plan and this will lay out its proposals for developing the bioenergy sector in Scotland. Long-term availability of biomass will also be considered in the UK Biomass Strategy which the Government intend to publish before May 2007.

Officials from Defra and the Forestry Commission hold regular discussions with those involved with feedstock procurement for these projects. The Secretary of State has not held any recent meetings to discuss demand for wood fibre specifically. However, I have discussed woodfuel with both the England Forest Industry Partnership and the industry body, CONFOR (Confederation of Forest Industries).

129531 – Biofuels – 27 March 2007

Mr. David Drew:
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he made of the impact on the wood panel industry of increasing the level of subsidy for co-firing using a wood-based raw material. [129531]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government support co-firing through the renewables obligation (RO). Currently, all technologies under the RO receive the same level of support. The Energy Review Report proposed banding the RO so that it provides different levels of support to different technologies. As co-firing is one of the most economic technologies, we have consulted on proposals to decrease the level of support it receives. These proposals would require amendments to the Electricity Act 1989 and will be the subject of an announcement later this year. At present, the level through which suppliers can meet their obligation through co-firing is capped at 10 per cent. having fallen from 25 per cent. in 2006. This cap not only protects the RO certificate market but also restricts the volumes of biomass, including wood, that can be used.

The Government also commissioned an independent report to look at the current and future impact of co-firing on the wood panel industry (ILEX, September 2005). The report concluded that allowing more waste wood (which is not suitable for use by the wood panel industry) to qualify for support through the RO would ease competition for the industry’s preferred feedstock. We accepted these recommendations and have implemented them through changes to the biomass definition in the Renewables Obligation Order 2006 and will make further changes through the Renewables Obligation Order 2006 Amendment Order 2007 from 1 April 2007.

148126 – Wood: Procurement – 10 July 2007

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of timber produced in England that is used for the manufacture of (a) paper, (b) chipboard and (c) other building materials. [148126]

Joan Ruddock: Not all the information requested is available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

It is estimated that, in 2005, 277,000 green tonnes of timber harvested in England was used directly by integrated pulp and paper mills out of the UK total use of 714,000 green tonnes of UK roundwood. Use by the panel board industry, which includes chipboard, is only available as a UK total, which is 1.5 million green tonnes.

There are no statistics for wood’s use as building materials, but in 2005 construction markets were reported to take 34 per cent. of all sawnwood from larger softwood sawmills in the UK (each producing more than 5,000 cubic metres of sawnwood). Within this UK total the larger softwood mills in England sold 23 per cent. for use in construction. Not all sawn timber produced in England came from logs harvested in England.

148124/148129 – Forestry – 10 July 2007

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much timber was harvested in England in each of the last five years. [148124]

Joan Ruddock: The estimate of timber harvested in England in each of the last five years for which figures are available is given in the table. See full PQ for table.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what programmes are in place to replace areas of woodland lost to development with new areas of planting. [148129]

Joan Ruddock: There is no specific programme in place to replace areas of woodland lost to development. Nevertheless, there is significantly more new woodland created in England each year than is lost to development.

148125 – Wood: Imports – 11 July 2007

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the UK’s timber needs are met by imported material. [148125]

Joan Ruddock: In 2005, the latest year for which figures have been published, it was estimated that 52.5 million cubic metres of wood raw material equivalent was imported and 8.6 million cubic metres was produced in the UK.

Exports, including materials produced from both imported and domestically grown timber for use or re-use outside the UK, were 16.5 million cubic metres of wood raw material equivalent, so UK apparent consumption was 44.6 million cubic metres. Imports therefore made up 81 per cent. of apparent consumption.

Around one third of the wood products imported to the UK in 2005 were imported as softwood (round and sawn). A further one third were imported as paper, 15 per cent. were imported as wood based panels and 13 per cent. as pulp. Paper (20 per cent.) and recovered paper (57 per cent.) accounted for the majority of exports of wood products from the UK in 2005.

148128 – Wood: Procurement – 11 July 2007

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of the Government’s (a) domestic and (b) imported timber supplies are procured from sustainable sources. [148128]

Joan Ruddock: There is not sufficient current data available from which accurate figures on Government’s purchase of sustainably produced timber could be deduced. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is engaged on an exercise designed to identify options for developing a reliable system that all central Departments in England could use to report their timber purchases.

150706 – Wood: Recycling – 24 July 2007

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the reasons for the level of recycling of timber; and what steps he is taking to increase the level. [150706]

Joan Ruddock: Recent research(1) carried out on DEFRA’s behalf, suggests that it is generally better, in carbon and energy terms, to recover energy from waste wood than to recycle it, with either option being far better than landfill. It estimated that 16 per cent. of waste wood in the UK is currently recycled and 80 per cent. landfilled.

No specific assessment has been made of the reasons for the current level of wood recycling. However the waste and resources action programme (WRAP) continues to play an important role in developing recycling capacity for clean waste wood and markets for the resulting products.

Most waste wood is, however, unsuitable for recycling and the waste strategy for England 2007 sets out the Government’s intention to recover more energy from wood that would otherwise be landfilled. DEFRA’s waste implementation programme is taking forward a programme of work to develop energy markets for waste wood by addressing the informational and practical barriers to expansion.

(1) Carbon Balances and Energy Impacts of the Management of UK Wastes, report by ERM (with Colder Associates) for DEFRA, Final Report, March 2007.

160389 – Industrial Health and Safety: Formaldehyde – 24 Oct 2007

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government will adopt the recommendations of the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits to reduce occupational exposure limit values for formaldehyde to 0.2 ppm for eight-hour time weighted average and to 0.4 ppm for short-term exposure limits up to 15 minutes.

Mrs. McGuire: The Government do not intend to adopt the recommendations on formaldehyde from the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on occupational exposure limits, at the current time.

However, discussions are currently ongoing within the European Commission on whether or not to include formaldehyde in the annex to a future indication occupational exposure limit values (IOELV) directive, and if so at what level. We anticipate the Commission will present a proposal to the Luxembourg Advisory Committee on Safety and Health in November.

Should an IOELV be agreed for formaldehyde in a future Commission directive, the UK Government will take that limit into account when setting their own domestic limit.

160390 – Industrial Health and Safety: Formaldehyde – 24 Oct 2007

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Disease Reduction Programme has concluded its benchmarking exercise; what steps the HSE plans to take on workplace exposure limits for formaldehyde; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. McGuire: The Health and Safety Executive’s benchmarking exercise was presented in June 2007 to representatives of employers, trades unions, pressure groups and the scientific community at a workshop chaired by a highly respected independent academic.

There are no immediate plans to amend the current workplace exposure limits for formaldehyde. If, however, formaldehyde is included in the third European Commission Indicative Occupational Exposure Limit Values Directive, the Health and Safety Executive would be obliged to take account of that limit when setting a domestic limit in the UK.

160222 – Industrial Health and Safety: Formaldehyde – 25 Oct 2007

Mr. Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the Government has undertaken an impact assessment on the recommendations of the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits to reduce occupational exposure limit values for formaldehyde to 0.2 ppm for 8-hour time weighted average and to 0.4 ppm for short-term exposure limits (up to 15 minutes).

Mrs. McGuire: The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL) published its final recommendation on occupational exposure limits for formaldehyde in August 2007. The recommendation is currently being considered by the European Commission (Directorate General Employment and Social Affairs) and in the tripartite Working Party on Chemicals in the Workplace.It has not yet been agreed whether or not formaldehyde will be included in the annex to a third indicative occupational exposure limit values (IOELV) directive or at what level an IOELV for formaldehyde will be set. Once a formal proposal is put forward, the Health and Safety Executive will carry out an impact assessment to estimate the effect on industry of workplace exposure limits set at these levels.

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