Confor has recently published a survey regarding the key issues that the forestry sector in the UK needs to consider ahead of the EU referendum in June. The “Seeing the EU through the trees” paper will represent the basis for discussion at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Forestry meeting at Westminster, set to take place today.
The poll was designed to measure the perspectives of the forestry and wood sectors, along with asking whether those responding wish to remain in the EU. Mainly, the open document considers 6 areas where decisions made at European level have direct or indirect impacts on the forestry and timber industry: trade, plant health, direct financial support from the EU, regulations, red tape and bureaucracy, labour market and controlling UK borders and the economy.
"For those who owned woods or practised forestry 30 or more years ago, the challenge now of trying to get things done, or claiming grants, can seem a nightmare. The prospect of leaving the EU and getting rid of it all sounds something like paradise. Something that seems so good should perhaps be looked at a little more closely,” said Guy Watt of John Clegg Consulting, who has written the paper.
The forestry and timber trade body represents 2,000 businesses in the UK and the poll made by Confor showed that 52% of them were in favour of remaining a member of the EU, while 48% of them prefer to leave the union.
Mr Watt also questions whether the UK “gold plates” EU directives and wonders if that practice would be given up easily if the UK voted to leave.
Also, the paper includes information about the amount of grant support for woodland owners in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern from Europe, between 2014 and 2020. Thus, it shows that, between the mentioned period, woodland owners in Scotland will receive £36million and the forestry industry will be granted £783,000 as research funding.