Should those working in the nursery, forestry and wood processing sector be designated as “key workers”?
Confor lobbied ministers in England, Scotland and Wales on this issue and Defra has confirmed in England: "Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers". Confor continues to work with the other administrations on this matter.
How will Covid-19 affect the timber supply chain?
For up-to-date information on impacts on construction and other wood-using sectors, and international timber supply chains, visit the Timber Trade Federation Covid-19 hub.
If the country goes into lockdown, will primary industries like forestry and farming be exempt?
At this stage we don’t know if the country will go into lockdown or the restrictions that will be put in place. However, we are preparing information to share with governments and one of those will be to emphasise that this is a sector that is important in rural areas and could continue to operate if government supports that.
Are Forestry Commission, Scottish Forestry, Natural Resources Wales and NI Forest Service still operating?
Yes, the forestry authorities are still operating, although they are likely to experience reduced capacity. Confor is liaising with them to communicate updates and messages to businesses in the sector and to explore ways to maintain activity during a period of reduced staffing levels and restrictions on face-to-face interaction. It is recommended that online services and email is used as post and phone services are likely to be particularly disrupted.
Do all forestry regulations still apply, for example, do I need a felling license to fell trees?
Yes, all forestry regulations still apply and you should contact the relevant forestry authority for permissions. It is recommended that online services and email is used as post and phone services are likely to be particularly disrupted. Agents may be required to agree special arrangements to allow inspections to take place.
Will the reduced service from forestry services affect NRW timber sales?
No, all staff have been given equipment to work from home, so pickups, contracts starts and e-sales should continue as usual.
What about Forestry England, Forestry and Land Scotland and NI Forest Service timber sales?
FE and FLS have advised that they are working to maintain timber sales. We will be contacting NIFS.
How should certification audits be carried out during the pandemic?
Read information issued by FSC
What support is available to my business?
A package of temporary support measures, including a Job Retention Scheme, deferred VAT and Income Tax payments, a Statutory Sick Pay relief package, small business grant funding, and Business Interruption Loan Schemes are explained on the government’s Covid-19: support for business page. Brodies' Covid-19 hub offers legal information and advice, including answering employers question on Job Retention Scheme and other hot topics.
What support is available if I am worried about my cashflow and/or ability to borrow money?
There is a corporate financing facility for larger firms to provide a quick, cost-effective way to raise working capital via the purchase of short-term debt, announced by the Bank of England. Also, the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, will support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan.
Both schemes are expected to be available from w/b March 23rd. Find out more here
What if my business is struggling to meet its tax liabilities?
HMRC has set up a phone helpline to offer practical help and advice to support businesses and self-employed people concerned about not being able to pay their tax due to COVID-19. The helpline number is 0800 0159 559.
How do I use tele and videoconferencing facilities?
You might want to use different onces for different teams, depending on the devices and softwares they are using. We will soon send out more detailed recommendations with pros and cons for each of the communication platforms.
Can I get FTN delivered to my home?
Yes, please ring the office on 0131 240 1410, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note - for April FTN, any requests for changes to mailing addresses coming in after 3pm on Monday 23rd of March, cannot be considered.
How should I protect myself against Coronavirus/Covid-19?
For the current advice on protecting yourself and those around you, visit the Coronavirus pages on the NHS website. For current advice for employers on protecting your workforce, consult the Government’s Guidance for employers and businesses.
How should I protect my own and my employees’ mental health?
For free professional advice contact Perennial, the dedicated mental health charity for forestry and horticulture. Visit https://perennial.org.uk/, call 0800 093 8543, or email email@example.com
Alternatively, phone Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or visit www.breathingspace.scot
How should I protect my own or my employees’ health when working from home?
Advice on your health and safety responsibilities for home and lone workers is available on the HSE website.
Can claim statutory sick pay if I am self-isolating?
Yes, those ill or self-isolating due to Covid-19 are eligible for statutory sick pay. See the Support for those affected by Covid-19 guidance.
What are the arrangements for drivers during the outbreak?
For current rules for drivers including access to welfare facilities and drivers’ hours rules, see the HSE website.
Can I visit the public forests?
For current information on access to public forests visit Forestry England Coronavirus Information, Forestry and Land Scotland Covid-19 Latest, Natural Resources Wales response to the coronavirus pandemic, or the DAERA forestry pages.