THE forestry minister visited a wood processing site to discuss the future of the wood panel industry.

EGGER in Hexham welcomed Trudy Harrison and minister for employment Guy Opperman for a tour of the plant last month.

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The visit to Northumberland’s largest manufacturing company comes amid concerns raised by the industry through the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) about the increasing demand for the UK annual wood basket.

Andrew Laidler, sales director at EGGER, said: “I was delighted to host this meeting with the minister, where we had constructive discussions about wood security as a key component of sustainable UK manufacturing.

"The sector currently satisfies 65 per cent of the market's demand highlighting the real need to increase productive forestry planting in order to ensure a secure supply of wood which is vital to underpin our manufacturing capability and future capital investment. We welcome the continued support of both Trudy Harrison MP and Guy Opperman MP.”

WPIF director general, Alastair Kerr, added: "The Industry welcome and supports the UK and the devolved governments' ambition to plant 30,000 hectares of new woodland per year by 2025 and hopes to see the government meet this target majority of new planting being productive forestry to meet the needs of UK industry."

Forestry Journal: EGGER employees fundraised more than £5,000 during RED JanuaryEGGER employees fundraised more than £5,000 during RED January (Image: EGGER)

The visit comes as more than fifty EGGER employees fundraised for Sport in Mind, Mind Tyneside and Northumberland and Minds Over Matter in Ayrshire by completing RED January, a nationwide initiative for mental wellbeing, involving 30 minutes of daily exercise in January.

The Better Health at Work committee for EGGER’s production plants in Hexham and Barony raised £5,100.

£2,550 will be donated to Sport in Mind; £1,275 to Mind Tyneside and Northumberland; and £1,275 to Ayrshire's Minds Over Matter.

Jo Howarth, HR administrator and Better Health at Work coordinator at EGGER, said: "Over the last 31 days, our employees have battled their way through snow, ice, and rain to ensure they could complete the challenge. Activities were monitored using Strava, and our employees were encouraging and celebrating each other's achievements throughout the month."

EGGER will support Cancer Research’s challenge to walk 56 miles in February and donate £56 for each employee participating.

This article originally appeared in our sister title, the Hexham Courant.