MSP discusses growing demand for timber on visit to Glennons

16 November 2021

A senior politician heard about the large and growing demand for construction timber on a visit to a sawmill and timber design plant in southern Scotland.

Scottish Conservative MSP Brian Whittle, Shadow Minister for the Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, visited Confor members Glennon Brothers and Alexander Timber Design in Troon, Ayrshire.  

Alexanders recently moved to a three-shift system, creating 25 new jobs, due to growing demand for timber frames for new homes in Scotland. 

Stuart Goodall, Confor Chief Executive, accompanied Mr Whittle - a former international athlete - on the visit. He said: “With COP26 taking place in Glasgow, this visit was an opportunity to showcase how the forestry and sawmilling sector is contributing to net zero, both through locking up carbon and generating onsite renewable energy. There’s more that the sector can do and we’re keen that it is understood and supported by politicians. 

“There has been broad political consensus to increase the planting of modern, mixed-species forests to deliver a range of economic and environmental benefits to Scotland - and Confor and its members will continue to engage with all politicians and stakeholders to shout about this modern Scottish success story.” 

The increase in production at Alexanders means around 2,500 timber frames will be produced annually in Troon, with almost 250 people employed at the sawmill and timber design site. Around 85% of all new-build housing in Scotland is made from timber frames, compared to under 30% in the rest of the UK. 

Scott Shiells, Head of Group Operations for Glennon Brothers, said: “We were delighted to welcome Brian Whittle to the plant to tell him a very positive story about forestry and timber and the economic and environmental benefits it brings.  

“About one-third of the wood we use is brought in by boat, mainly from Argyll, to the Port of Troon - reducing timber lorry movements significantly. Within weeks, some of those logs will be part of a timber frame house being built in Scotland - it’s an amazing environmental story and at the same time, we are creating new jobs and adding value to the Ayrshire economy.” 

Leftover material from the sawn timber is turned into wood chips and used to fire a Combined Heat and Power plant on the Troon site. “We use 100% of the log - nothing is wasted,” said Mr Shiells.  

He concluded: “As demand for timber frames grows - in Scotland and across the UK - we need to keep planting forests to ensure we have enough timber in future. The forestry and wood industry provides sustainable timber frame homes for Scottish people, offers secure local employment and locks up carbon in the wood. It’s a great story.”