SOARING timber prices is putting a strain on wood panel manufacturers, including Kronospan in Chirk, the area’s MP has revealed.
Susan Elan Jones says Government subsidies for wood bought to enable biomass energy generation is causing the price of wood to rise and creating a real concern for herself and the local firm.
She is now calling on the Wales Office to act directly to help Kronospan, which employs 600 workers, and other wood panelling plants to help curb the disadvantage facing the industry.
Speaking in Parliament, the Clwyd South MP, said: “Kronospan is massively important. It has a thriving apprenticeship programme supported by the Welsh Government, teaching young people real-life employment skills.
“Kronospan and I are concerned by various incentives in the Government’s renewables obligations and the new Energy Act 2013 to purchase wood for energy generation. I assure him [the Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb, that this is not an anti-biomass move, but we are concerned about some unintended consequences of the Act. We are asking not for special treatment but for a level playing field.”
Mr Crabb visited Kronospan last month to announce a £7 billion energy package designed to reduce the costs of energy policy for every business, household and region in the country.
Speaking after the debate, the local MP added: “I am very pleased that a Wales Office Minister recently visited Kronospan, but I would now ask him to help Kronospan and other wood panelling plants by looking at the problems in the Energy Act.
“I am asking the Minister to meet with me and Kronospan to try and sort out this issue,” she added.
In 2011, Kronospan’s CEO, Ludwig Scheiblreiter, warned of rising wood prices in part due to Government subsidies that were available to the biomass industry.
At that time he warned: “The industry urgently needs to set up the right structures to secure future supply as price alone will not guarantee availability. These changes will be enormous.”