Monday, 27 February 2012

Speaking out for the local furniture industry

Taken from the British Furniture Federations website

The Adjournment Debate, on the Future of Biomass, was introduced by the Member for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer MP. Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, represented the Government. Although carbon issues and health concerns were raised in the debate, there was a significant exchange on the subsidy for woody biomass and its impact on the price of wood.

Graham Jones MP, Labour Member for Hyndburn and a member of the Furniture Industry All-Party Parliamentary Group, raised the concerns of the furniture industry. He referred to Senator in his constituency: “In the past five years we have seen wood prices rise by 55% because of biomass subsidies. An employer in my constituency, the furniture manufacturer Senator, which employs about 1,000 people has to compete against rising wood prices simply because of the biomass subsidy. Should not the Government consider the impact of biomass subsidies on employment in furniture manufacturers and other wood-using companies, as well as the impact on the environment?” (Hansard, 20 February 2012, Cols. 717)

Mr Jones also referred to the potentially damaging effects of the woody biomass subsidy on employment in the furniture industry: “Has the Minister carried out a study of the effects on employment, particularly in the furniture industry? He has spoken of jobs being gained, but what about the jobs that will be lost if wood-making industries are adversely affected?” (Hansard, 20 February 2012, Cols. 720).

Greg Barker MP said that the Government took the issues raised “extremely seriously” and confirmed that the Government was “committed to ensuring a strong future for the wood products industry”, saying that he believed that the majority of biomass for use in waste or energy plants would be imported .

Challenged again by Mr Jones on the increasing pressure on wood-using industries if wood prices continue to rise, Mr Barker replied: “Traditional users of British timber and wood waste have legitimate concerns, which we continue to hear. We will continue to ensure that their voice is clearly heard in policy making. The representations that they have made have been reflected in the way in which we have responsibly ensured that the users of biomass are not overly subsidised, which can be seen in the renewables obligation review and the renewable heat incentive. We think that there is a fair balance to be struck.” (Hansard, 20 February 2012, Cols. 722)

Mr Barker confirmed that the Department of Energy and Climate Change is expected to publish a cross-government UK bio-energy strategy in March.

To read the full debate, please click here