UK groups take action against timber products from Russia and Belarus

The UK Pellet Council and the Forest Stewardship Council have announced that they will no longer recognize wood products from Russia and Belarus, stopping their import for use in bioenergy applications. The UK Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology welcomes these decisions.

On March 8, the FSC announced that its international board of directors had agreed to suspend all commercial certificates in Russia and Belarus and to block all controlled wood supply from the two countries. “This means that all certificates in Russia and Belarus that allow the sale or promotion of FSC products are suspended,” the FSC said in a statement. “In addition, any supply of controlled forest products from both countries is blocked. This means that once this suspension and blocking becomes effective, wood and other forest products can no longer be purchased as FSC certified or controlled from Russia and Belarus for inclusion in FSC products anywhere in the world.

To continue to protect forests in Russia, the FSC said it will allow holders of forest management certificates in Russia to retain their FSC forest management certification, but no permission to market or sell FSC-certified wood.

UKPC Chairman Mark Lebus issued a statement on March 12 announcing that wood pellets would no longer come from Russia or be imported from Russian producers. He warned that this action could lead to price increases in the short term for biomass heating systems and called on the UK government to invest in domestic production of wood pellets.

“With the UK and international sanctions in place, we estimate that total European production could be reduced by around 12-15%, so there could be some price increases in the short term due to the current situation and competitiveness. between countries,” said Lebus.

“While the UK biomass heat industry is a small, thriving and highly specialized market, serving mainly rural and off-grid, domestic and commercial users, we are indeed operating in a global wood pellet industry,” said added Lebus. “The market heading into winter was tight due to an increased deployment of biomass boiler installations across Europe and new renewable energy programs being implemented in EU member states. EU, and this has been further amplified by a sharp increase in shipping and container costs.These external factors have also pushed other industries, such as power plants and large utility companies – totally separate from the biomass heat, to purchase and opt for larger bulk shipments, additionally purchasing a much larger quantity and higher quality of premium wood pellets than their usual requirement for industrial grade lower stock .

Lebus called on the UK government to “better support, strengthen and invest heavily in a ‘local’ wood pellet production market which would not only see the UK become predominantly self-sufficient in biomass firewood, and therefore less dependent on imports and rising energy prices, but also attract more foreign investment for new manufacturing plants, creating thousands of green jobs for rural areas.

The REA welcomes the steps taken by the FSC and the UKPC and calls on the government to help develop domestic biomass feedstock.

“The REA welcomes commitments from biomass supply companies to urgently restructure their supply chains, ensuring that biomass feedstocks, such as wood pellets, are no longer sourced from Russia or in Belarus,” said Terence McCracken, chairman of REA’s Wood Heat Forum. “The decisions of the UK Pellet Council and the Forest Stewardship Council to no longer recognize Russian wood products are to be applauded, as UK renewable energy and cleantech companies continue to isolate our energy demands from Russian supplies.

“The UK biomass heat industry is acutely aware of the impact this can have on the availability of biomass. REA is committed to working with our Wood Heat Forum members, their suppliers and wider industry stakeholders to help the industry diversify its supply chain and close the revenue gap resulting from the reduction Russian imports. Therefore, it is critical that industry and government take advantage of the opportunity presented by lower heat demand in summer to strengthen supply chains in time for next winter.

“For this, it is essential that the government take seriously the need to increase domestic biomass production by supporting the production of perennial energy crops and short rotation forest products,” McCracken continued. “The Climate Change Committee has previously highlighted the need to plant 23,000 hectares of energy crops per year if we are to achieve our Net Zero ambitions. Current international supply constraints need to be taken into account, but more needs to be done to ensure that farmers and landowners are rewarded for growing these crops and for the additional environmental benefits they bring. provide, mainly through the government’s environmental land management programme.

“The REA and its members are ready to see biomass feedstock supply chains diversify as appropriate, so that biomass can continue to play its part in decarbonisation and the UK’s future energy security”

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