THE UK government has made little progress in tackling the "barriers" restricting the use of timber in construction, a new report has found. 

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) called on ministers to invest in "further research and safety testing on the use of structural timber now", while developing a "joined-up" policy to increase the number of commercial plantations to meet growing demand.  

Produced by a cross-party group of MPs over the course of 14 months, the 'Building to net-zero: costing carbon in construction’ report insisted a "mandatory requirement to undertake whole-life carbon assessments for buildings" is the single most significant policy the government could introduce as part of its net-zero mission. 

READ MORE: NAO says DEFRA 'did not do enough' to ensure 7,500 ha tree planting target was realistic

Coming shortly after two scathing reports on Defra's tree-planting targets, MPs, including Caroline Lucas, said significant obstacles to the uptake of timber products in construction also included:

Forestry Journal: The UK remains one of the world's biggest importer of timber The UK remains one of the world's biggest importer of timber (Image: Stock)

  • Fire risk and insurance
  • Price volatility
  • Securing sustainable and local supply chains
  • The skills gaps in the use of timber

MPs wrote: "The government must develop a coherent policy, joined-up across departments, to address the need for increased tree planting to address biodiversity and climate change concerns and the need for sustainable commercial plantations using appropriate tree species to meet the demand for domestic timber in construction.

"Government has committed to developing a policy roadmap on use of timber in construction. This should be delivered by the end of 2022 at the latest: it must comprehensively address the afforestation commitments made in the England Tree Action Plan and the need for timber construction products." 

@forestryjournal Timber is back on track in Wales 😍🪵#forestrylife #trains #wales #forestry #JohnDeere #ponsse #komatsu ♬ original sound - Forestry Journal

Other actions to be taken now by the Government to reduce emissions include taking greater action through their procurement policies, supporting the industry to close the skills gaps, and promoting further research into the use of structural timber in the UK.

Timber Development UK chief executive, David Hopkins, said: "One of our biggest roadblocks to making the changes necessary to address climate change is a mindset which perceives the shift to a net-zero economy as down the road, in the future, and reliant upon unproven technologies to decarbonise the industries most responsible for emissions.

READ MORE: EFRA tree planting report 2022: UK Government criticised for 'lack of focus' and push for homegrown timber

“We already have a solution. Wood is the only sustainable structural material which can enable substantial decarbonisation of the built environment based on existing business models and proven technology. It can provide vast carbon sinks in our rural areas and carbon stores in our cities." 

Forestry Journal: David HopkinsDavid Hopkins

Chair Philip Dunne MP, said: “Mandatory whole-life carbon assessments, and targets to crack down on embodied carbon, provide part of the answer. Constructors and developers can then determine which low-carbon materials, such as timber and recycled steel, they can use.”

Read the full report here