Motion to support Scotland's timber industry recognizes importance of sawmills to economy, says BSW Timber official; more than 30 Scottish Parliament members back investment proposal

EARLSTON, U.K. , December 19, 2011 (press release) – More than 30 MSPs from all political parties have signed up to a Scottish Parliament Motion supporting investment in the Scottish timber industry - and calling for sustained investment in the sector through long-term woodland expansion.

The motion was lodged at the end of November 2011 by Dave Thompson, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, recognising the commitment by BSW Timber in investing in its mill operations in Fort William as part of a £50 million five-year investment programme.

The motion "recognises the important role played by the sawmill industry in the Scottish economy" and calls for a "need to grow the resource to sustain investment in the sector through appropriate productive woodland expansion" whilst recognising that "timber products have a critical role in the construction of low-cost and low-carbon homes across Scotland."

Dave Thompson MSP said: "I am pleased that my parliamentary motion has attracted such widespread support. This shows the importance MSPs of all parties place on the health of such an important source of environmentally-sustainable employment.

"It is through industries such as this, which seek to harness and sustain Scotland's natural resources, that our country can continue to grow without causing high levels of environmental damage."

The MSPs support for the motion was welcomed by BSW Timber. Hamish Macleod, the company's head of Public Affairs added: "The motion was supported by more than a third of all the MSPs who were eligible to put their name to it, which shows the strength of cross-party political support that the industry enjoys in Scotland.

"It is especially pleasing that many of the MSPs were from urban constituencies, showing that the industry's future is a concern for the whole of Scotland - and not just about preserving rural economies.

He added: "While the size and scope of the forest products industry is vast and has allowed UK manufacturing to grow, current uncertainty in wood supply is damaging to industry confidence and downstream customers. This is why we urgently need the political will to continue to invest in woodland expansion across Scotland.

"BSW's investment has been built on the basis of sustainable and long-term supply, which needs to continue. Of key concern to us is how the many stakeholders involved in the industry - including the Forestry Commission for Scotland - can continue to provide a consistent, reliable supply of timber at market price, and how its future financial sustainability can be secured."

Confor, the timber industry's representative body, echoed this sentiment. Chief Executive, Stuart Goodall, explained: "As an indigenous and growing low-carbon industry, we have enjoyed consistent cross-party support in Scotland. We now need that support to manifest itself in an immediate increase in productive planting. A targeted programme of 9,000 hectares a year to 2020 will deliver massive carbon, jobs and investment benefits for Scotland."

BSW Timber unveiled investment plans this year to expand capacity at its Fort William mill in as part of a company-wide drive to produce more than 1.3million m3 of sawn timber per year across all UK operations.

The new plans are a major part of the company's £50million investment programme over a five year period to 2015. The expansion plans of the Fort William mill began three years ago, creating around 45 new jobs at the sawmill.

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