New Zealand's Green Party says government's plan to simplify timber treatment rules will eliminate use of alternative timbers, hurting growers and sawmills

AOTEAROA, New Zealand , March 17, 2011 (press release) – Simplifying timber treatment rules will hurt growers, sawmills, and green consumers who want non-toxic timber building options, said the Green Party today.

"The Green Party recognises that we need a building code that ensures the construction of safe, durable buildings for New Zealanders, but simplifying the rules to effectively eliminate non-toxic, alternatives is unwise and unfair," said Green Party forestry spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

Ms Delahunty was responding to a recent statement from the Minister of Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson, ruling that there will be a single class of timber treatment — H1.2 — for almost all enclosed timber framing.

"The new building rules effectively eliminate the use of alternative timbers which will hurt the growers of these species and the sawmills that process them," said Ms Delahunty.

Species such as macrocarpa, eucalyptus, larch, and other naturally durable timbers have previously been used as framing timber, without chemical treatment, but will no longer be allowed.

"These new rules will penalise consumers who wish to choose non-toxic building options," Ms Delahunty said.

"Some consumers may wish to avoid H1.2 timber due to the health risks that boron or permethrin-treated timber pose.

According to the Department of Building and Housing, timber treatments consist of chemicals that may be harmful, so direct contact should be minimised, and work spaces ventilated. Under the new rules, Douglas Fir will be the only non-treated timber option for enclosed timber framing.

"This Government has chosen to simplify the building code, at the expense of the environment and consumer choice, and to the detriment of growers raising safe, non-toxic alternatives to treated pine," said Ms Delahunty.

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