The choppy waters of leaving lockdown

Stuart Goodall, CEO, Confor

Navigating uncharted waters has become a little choppier for those seeking to work across borders, following Boris Johnson’s Sunday announcement

liftfork timber yard

The PM signalled an easing of lock-down restrictions, but the desire of businesses from the four countries to remain in ‘lock-step’ in their actions to tackle the virus has been dealt a further blow.

Prior to last night’s TV address, the three First Ministers signalled divergence, and that came on top of an already more restrictive lock-down policy north of the border, and to an extent in Wales as well.

On a positive note, the impact of divergence is likely to be less significant for our sector given that Confor secured recognition of the sector’s role in producing critical products – pallet wood, agricultural fencing, biomass and packaging.

All sawmills provide a number of these and therefore their supply chains are covered by the same need to work.

As England begins its first steps towards what will be a ‘new normal’, we can expect demand for wood to increase from the house-building and construction sectors. This will help secure a more robust position for the sector, across the UK, to continue supplying essential products.

More sawmills cutting more material and being able to optimise production for the various markets they supply provides for a more secure flow of critical products. And a return of board production will provide the means for sawmills to move co-product and avoid the supply chain simply gumming up.

Of course, we don’t know if this staggered restart to activity will herald a V shaped recovery, or a U or W, hopefully not an L. Frankly it’s an uncertain time for us all.

In a recent survey of businesses in the sector, almost half of respondents said they’d welcome further support from Confor. In response, we will review what support we are providing and at all times keep doing our best for members.