David Rutley MP delivers speech on increasing forest cover during visit to EGGER UK’s Hexham site

EGGER (UK) Limited welcomed David Rutley, Minister for Food and Animal Welfare, and the UK Government’s Tree Champion, Sir William Worsley to its manufacturing site in Hexham, Northumberland.

Rutley, who also has responsibility for forestry policy in England, delivered a speech to stakeholders on increasing forestry covering Northumberland and across the nation, highlighting the new Environment Bill and forthcoming Tree Strategy as the UK Government’s latest commitment to bolstering tree planting in England.

He said: “There is no doubt that forestry is a vital industry in Northumberland, and my visit to Egger’s impressive Hexham plant only confirmed this.

“I believe passionately that tree planting must be at the heart of our plans as a government. I look forward to continuing discussions with Egger and other stakeholders in the forestry sector on how we can work together in partnership to achieve our ambitious goals.”

Rutley is the second UK Government Minister to visit EGGER’s Hexham plant this year, following  a visit by Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry in March.

The visits follow the publication of the APPG for the Wood Panel Industry’s Expert Working Group Report and Rutley’s visit provided a welcomed recognition of the wood panel industry’s role in  supporting a strong forestry policy post-Brexit.

Alastair Kerr, director general of the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) said: “We were pleased to continue the constructive conversation with the Minister on the challenges facing our industry as a whole. The principal issue facing the industry is wood security and constraint upon  long-term supply limits its growth potential. Future forestry policy needs to detail key planting targets for the next 20 years, which will prove a crucial time for the wood panel industry. We look forward to further discussion on this and energy policy in order to secure the long-term future of this critical domestic industry.”

EGGER (UK) Limited has invested £250 million in UK operations in both Auchinleck and Hexham to ensure it remains at the heart of wood-based materials production within Europe. It now has over 800 direct employees and its two manufacturing sites deliver the equivalent of 27,500 lorry trailers of wood-based materials each year.

John Paterson, director, EGGER Forestry said: “We were delighted to have the Minister visit our plant where we were able to show him the manufacturing process and range of panel-based products produced in Hexham. Northumberland is a fantastic location for afforestation and we look forward to further discussion on the future of large-scale planting opportunities. EGGER makes a considerable contribution to both the local and national economy and as a company we are  encouraged by the initial steps taken recently in terms of woodland creation targets which will be a key component for promoting confidence for this domestic industry in the years ahead.”

Wood-based material manufacturers, represented by the WPIF, have welcomed the UK  Government’s target of a further 11 million trees to be planted by 2025 in England.

Caption – (Left to right:- Simon Hart – EGGER Forestry business development manager; John Paterson – director of EGGER Forestry; Guy Opperman MP for Hexham; Tobias Zimmermann, plant director, technical/ production, EGGER UK; David Rutley MP, Minister for Food and Animal Welfare; Alastair Kerr – director general, Wood Panel Industries Federation).

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