Call to support Northumberland’s timber industry

Paul Allen, from the Forestry Commission, in Kielder Forest.
Paul Allen, from the Forestry Commission, in Kielder Forest.

Senior representatives of Northumberland County Council will today meet the Roads Minister to put the case for more support for the region’s timber industry.

Northumberland County Council is working with the timber industry to unlock the full economic potential of the forestry sector in Northumberland and the North East.

The council’s executive director of place, Barry Rowland, will meet Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Robert Goodwill MP, to discuss transport infrastructure, plans to facilitate timber transport and reduce the impact of timber transport on rural roads and communities.

Kielder is the largest man-made forest in northern Europe and, together with other key strategic forests in Northumberland, has been the driving force behind a significant processing sector in the region.

The county council is a partner in the North East Timber Transport Forum, which has produced an Agreed Timber Routes Map (ARM), soon to be released.

The ARM steers timber wagons along the most suitable roads, avoiding wear to other carriageways and conflict in traffic sensitive areas, which will save the county council money from its highways maintenance budget.

Coun Ian Swithenbank, policy board member for streetcare and environment, said: “In Northumberland and the North East, the forestry industry is very important to the rural economy and we are working in partnership with the industry and the Forestry Commission to look at the issues around how timber is transported on rural roads.”

The transport of timber to market is an important part of the Plan for the Growth and Development of the Forestry Sector in Northern England which is currently being developed.