Use more timber frames in new housing starts ‘to boost UK forestry’

Policy Exchange report urges next government to increase use of timber in new homes

The next government must ramp up the amount of domestically-produced timber used in new housing starts across England from the current 22% to 40%, according to a new report.

Right-leaning think tank the Policy Exchange said land policy after the UK leaves the EU should encourage the construction sector to use more home-grown timber.

In a new report the group called for timber frames to account for 40% of new housing starts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2025, noting that in Scotland this figure was already over 80%.

The Policy Exchange, which last week questioned housebuilding pledges from both Labour and the Conservatives, said timber frames currently accounted for 22% of new housing starts in England, 17% in Northern Ireland and 30% in Wales.

The UK currently imports more than three quarters (80%) of the 57 million cubic metres of wood products it consumes, the exchange’s report said.

And it highlighted a Forestry Commission estimate that England had between 60m and 100m tonnes of ‘overdue’ timber in broadleaved woodlands, “demonstrating that there is a lot of slack in the market”.

The report also proposed a ‘Forest of Britain’, connecting Land’s End to John O’Groats via Wales, “as a lasting monument to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee in 2022.

“This would be a two-mile-wide corridor connecting conservation sites along the country to raise the profile of woodlands, containing 300 million trees,” it added.

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