2014

Westminster Hall Debate – Rural Paper Industry – 2 July 2014 – Column 259WH and Column 264WH

Guy Opperman: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this important debate. I speak as the representative of the constituency with the largest forest in the United Kingdom—Kielder. Egger, in my constituency, has a cross-border interest in Barony, which is in Ayr, and in Hexham. As a supplier of wood chip, it is very dependent on the businesses the hon. Gentleman is talking about. Does he agree that this and future Governments must consider the commercial forests of the future so that we have an ongoing forestry ecosystem?

… We all agree that we need more forestry to cope with existing businesses and the enhanced and expanding subsidised biomass businesses. Post-world war one, we planted Kielder in my constituency specifically to accommodate the need for large forestry infrastructure. I am worried that the Government do not have the big project ideas for large forestry planting going forward. Will the Minister expand on that? It is very much what businesses that I speak to, including forestry businesses, are looking for a steer on.

 

202114 and 202115 – Biomass Subsidies and Carbon Emissions – 1 July 2014

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect of Government subsidies for the generation of biomass power using domestic wood feed stocks on the UK’s wood panel industry; and if he will make a statement.

Gregory Barker: At the request of the wood panel industry, the Department carried out an analysis of domestic wood use by biomass generating stations, both through their returns on actual use under the sustainability reporting requirements of the renewables obligation and through the forecasts large scale generators provided to the Department as part of a voluntary exercise. Generators provided information on the amount of domestic and imported woody biomass that is likely to be used for electricity generation up to 2017. We published the aggregated results of last years’ analysis at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/246006/UK_wood_and_biomass.pdf

These data support the Department’s initial estimates of the amount of UK biomass that is expected to be used for electricity generation up to 2017 (of between 2.5 and 3.5 million oven dried tonnes (modt)). Use of UK biomass for electricity has remained stable over the 2009-12 period at between 2.3 and 2.5 modt (of which: between 1.3 and 1.6 modt was wood).

We intend to repeat this exercise this year.

Susan Elan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the effect of carbon reduction targets on jobs in the wood panelling sector. [202115]

Gregory Barker: The Government is committed to ensuring that industrial sectors maintain their competitiveness during the transition to a low-carbon economy, and continue to invest and provide employment in the UK. We have recognised the additional costs that climate and energy policies can place on energy-intensive industries, including the wood panelling sector, and announced a range of new measures in Budget 2014 to radically reduce these costs, in addition to the compensation measures already in place.

 

190500 and 190501 – Forests – 10 March 2014

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans he has to increase commercial coniferous forest planting; and if he will make a statement. [190500]

Dan Rogerson: As forestry is a devolved issue, tree planting and woodland creation plans are a separate matter for each of the devolved Administrations.

In England the Government’s Forestry and Woodland Policy Statement, published last year, set out our aspirations to increase woodland cover in England to 12% by 2060, representing an average planting rate of 5,000 ha per year. This will be dependent on landowners choosing to plant trees, including conifers, where it best suits them and their local conditions and priorities. Woodland creation is supported by the Rural Development Programme for England and we are looking at how we will continue to support woodland creation in the next programme.

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the proportion of UK forests that are under sustainable management. [190501]

Dan Rogerson: Forestry is a devolved issue. The Forestry Commission publishes a range of forestry statistics for the UK that are available on its website at: www.forestry.gov.uk/statistics

In England, the Forestry Commission’s headline performance indicator for woodland in active management, updated and published in December 2013, was 54%. It is reasonable to assume that woodland in active management is also being managed sustainably. In addition it is known that some sustainably managed woodland is not captured in the recording of woodland in active management so 54% will be an underestimate.

 

190502 – Compensatory Planting – 11 March 2014

Sandra Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what his policy is on compensatory forestry planting to mitigate deforestation undertaken as a result of wind turbine construction. [190502]

Michael Fallon: The potential impacts of wind farm developments and any mitigation measures that might reduce or remove those impacts are considered on a case-by-case basis during the assessment of any applications for planning permission or development consent.

 

Westminster Hall Debate – North Wales Economy – 1 April 2014 – Column 194WH

Susan Elan Jones: … My right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) spoke fantastically at the beginning of the debate about real economic success stories in north Wales. Kronospan is one of those; it is in Chirk and opened in 1970. Its creation came after most of the coal mining tradition in that area had finished. Kronospan is a wood panelling plant and is one of the top 10 manufacturing companies in Wales. It is the largest manufacturer of wood panelling products and laminate flooring in the world and the entire production of wood-based panel products is controlled from Kronospan’s site in my constituency. It employs just under 600 people, 90% of whom live in a 10-mile radius of the site itself.

Kronospan is massively important. It has a thriving apprenticeship programme supported by the Welsh Government, teaching young people real-life employment skills. It works exceptionally well with the local community and works closely with Chirk town council, with which it has a liaison committee. Their joint work has led to fewer lorries and more logs carried by train, among their many other successes.

However, it is not just a good story, and this is where I want the Minister’s help. Kronospan and I are concerned by various incentives in the Government’s renewables obligations and the new Energy Act 2013 to purchase wood for energy generation. I assure him that this is not an anti-biomass move, but we are concerned about some unintended consequences of the Act. We are asking not for special treatment but for a level playing field. We do not want to lose our Welsh Kronospan to another country. I ask the Minister whether he will meet me and representatives from Kronospan to discuss the matter, which is most important to the economy in my constituency and in north Wales.

 

195351 – Bioenergy Strategy – 10 April 2014

Mrs McGuire: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change when work will begin on the bioenergy strategy review; and if he will make a statement. [195351]

Gregory Barker: As set out in the UK Bioenergy Strategy: “it will be important to continue to monitor impacts and review policies and measures periodically in the light of information gained from monitoring policy impacts and the outputs of continuing research. …. We will review how the totality of UK bioenergy policies meets the direction and principles set out in this strategy in at least 5 year intervals.”

We will set out our intentions closer to the time.

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