Taking Timber to New Levels

The Government’s ‘Timber in Construction Roadmap’ sets out a framework for increasing the use of timber in construction and signals the UK making bold steps to a wider decarbonisation of the built environment.

The ‘Timber in Construction Roadmap’ outlines how the UK government intends to increase the safe use of timber in construction as well as increase domestic wood supply and reduce embodied carbon across the built environment.

This builds on commitments made in the government’s Net Zero Strategy and England Trees Action Plan.

The policy roadmap outlines priority themes that identify both the opportunities and barriers to timber construction in England.

The roadmap comes after a significant amount of work by the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) to advocate for timber, including a policy report ‘Timber in Construction: Barriers and Solutions’ as well as political site visits, and APPG engagements.

CTI members, Timber Development UK (TDUK) and the Structural Timber Association (STA), all feature heavily in the roadmap, having worked with government and many industry partners in the Timber in Construction (TiC) Working Group over the past 12 months.

“I hope this publication supports the production and use of our homegrown timber whilst boosting associated jobs throughout the country,” says Rebecca Pow, minister for nature in the policy document’s introduction.

“I look forward to seeing an increasing number of timber framed homes, public buildings and offices being built into the future.

“I want to thank all stakeholders for their input in creating this document and look forward to continuing to work together to implement the actions outlined within it.”

Priority themes

Chaired by DEFRA, the TiC Working Group also includes the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Department for Business and Trade and the Forestry Commission, along with timber industry representatives.

The recommendations are structured around seven ‘priority’ themes looking at creating far reaching change for English woodlands, homegrown constructional timber and many boosting many aspects of the timber knowledge and supply chain on the national road to net zero.

The key themes are:

  • Improving data on timber and whole life carbon
  • Promoting the safe, sustainable use of timber as a construction material
  • Increasing skills, capacity, and competency across the supply chain
  • Increasing the sustainable supply of timber
  • Addressing fire safety and durability concerns to safely expand the use of engineered mass timber
  • Increasing collaboration with insurers, lenders, and warranty providers
  • Promoting innovation and high performing timber construction systems

Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) chair, Alex Goodfellow, said: “This roadmap is a cast iron commitment to increasing timber use in the UK and is a pivotal moment for our exciting, low-carbon industry.

“As we stated in our recent APPG report, the government must provide both effective environmental regulation and market incentives to expand timber construction in the UK.

“The roadmap provides a solid foundation in achieving this aim, setting out real intent from the government to tackle the barriers to timber construction.

“However, there are areas of the report, particularly in relation to embodied carbon, which we feel need to be bolder.

“It is a shame to see the government delay action on this to 2025.

“The CTI will continue to work with all political parties in the long term, to ensure these positive commitments are both actioned, and in some cases, expanded.”

Andrew Carpenter, chief executive of the STA added: “The increased use of structural timber presents an opportunity to transition towards a more sustainable and carbon-efficient method of construction.

“As the only truly renewable and sustainable building resource, and with low embodied carbon, timber is an effective solution to achieving net zero and meeting the requirements of the Future Homes Standard – so we are pleased to see that the Government is prioritising its use.

“We applaud the leadership that has been shown in setting this objective and in the collaborative approach that has been taken with industry during the development of this essential policy roadmap.

“With solid recommendations now in place, the roadmap will give clarity and reassurances to stakeholders throughout the construction industry, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we take the next steps towards implementation of the recommendations.”

Committed to timber

The TiC Working Group will continue to meet regularly to track delivery of the actions outlined in this document and to scope and implement new actions as needed.

We will also develop a framework for monitoring and evaluation of progress towards this document’s objectives and ensure this is aligned to wider net zero and resource efficiency monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

“It is great to see the government make a firm commitment to expanding low-carbon timber construction in this policy document, says TDUK CEO, David Hopkins.

“By expanding low-carbon timber construction, particularly in the housing sector, we can decarbonise our built environment whilst simultaneously building high quality, efficient buildings.

“Expanding timber construction also offers a range of economic benefits, helping regions to ‘level up’ with green jobs, and creating localised manufacturing bases across the country which add value to raw timber products.

“Though there are many positives from the roadmap, it must be viewed as a good start rather than the finished article.

“Some policy areas, particularly the carbon section, are light on commitment when it comes to tackling embodied carbon, despite its pivotal importance to net zero.

“The CTI/TDUK will continue to engage with government to ensure the commitments are actioned and expanded in the coming years.”

To read the full policy roadmap and see more detail on Government and Industry expectations, ways forward and action points visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/timber-in-construction-roadmap/timber-in-construction-roadmap

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