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Considerate Constructors Scheme backs British

The Considerate Constructors Scheme has always championed the use of sustainable and local suppliers – which is why it’s backing the Grown in Britain initiative to promote British wood.

Clearly signposted in its Scheme Monitors’ Checklist it asks how a site is making ‘a positive contribution’ to the natural environment by sourcing ‘local materials’.

Now organisations can respond positively by using wood products licensed under the Grown in Britain scheme, which gives woodland owners, suppliers, retailers, and the construction industry assurance of British-grown timber.

Welcoming Grown in Britain, Considerate Constructors Scheme Chief Executive, Edward Hardy said: “The Scheme is proud to support Grown in Britain in promoting British-grown timber products to the construction industry. Not only will this help build a more sustainable and eco-friendly industry, but it will also breathe new life into the UK’s woodlands”.

The UK’s biggest consumer of timber

The construction industry is a huge consumer of wood materials for everything from house frames to panels, floors and joinery with 80 per cent of all UK wood being imported in 2013.

A huge 27.7 million cubic metres of timber was imported to the UK in 2014, according to the latest Forestry Commission figures. GiB would like to see a shift in this trend towards British timber. 

Research published in October by Grown in Britain revealed that 92 per cent of large contractors would support an industry-wide commitment to use more home-grown timber.

Many main contractors are already backing Grown in Britain including Willmott Dixon, Morgan Sindall, Lend Lease, Balfour Beatty, Kier, and BAM, to name just a few.

More than 60 per cent of construction companies surveyed by GiB said they would be keen to add clauses into contracts encouraging its use.

Commenting on whether UK wood supply could meet industry demand, Steve Cook, Sustainable Development Manager for Willmott Dixon said: 

“We will never be self-sufficient in terms of timber supply; we are currently the 3rd largest importer of timber behind China and Japan.

“The Timber Trade Federation annually produces some valuable statistics for the sector, which show that as a nation we are meeting about 40% of our softwood needs, but only 6% of our hardwood needs.  The majority of panel products such as OSB, Chipboard and MDF are domestically-produced products, but all plywood and hardboard is imported.



Considerate Constructors“In terms of softwood, the British climate produces fast-grown timber often classed as C16, this grade of timber is often used for non-structural applications, but its lower strength characteristics are increasingly being designed by engineers for structural uses such as upper floors or load-bearing walls.  This often increases the spans by 5-10%. Overall we can supply many wood uses but not the entire manufacturing base, which exists in the UK”. 

GiB is the sole provenance standard which assures British timber and timber products, and has no competitors.  It has a dedicated construction sector task group comprising representatives from several UKCG (UK Contractors Group) members, with a collective turnover of £33bn.

Realistic timber grading will boost British supply

Charlie Law, managing director of environmental consultancy Sustainable Construction Solutions and co-chair of GiB’s construction sector task group, said more realistic timber grading recommendations would boost the British supplies. Speaking in Construction Manager, the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Building, he said that too many people are specifying C24-strength grade timber sourced from Europe, when C16 grade, most commonly found in the UK, would be sufficient.

Outlining the benefits for construction companies to choose British, Mr Driver said: “Buying timber which is Grown in Britain will provide another way for contractors to demonstrate they are sourcing locally and adding social value.  Grown in Britain’s licensing scheme fully recognises existing timber certification schemes such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). It also meets the government’s timber procurement policy and its UK Forestry Standard for managing woodlands”.

Given that it typically takes 50 to 100 years to produce UK timber that can be used in construction, constant funding is needed to successfully manage woodland.

By insisting on home-grown timber, contractors and their supply chains provide the economic incentive to attract new producers to invest, protecting this sustainable resource for future generations.

Asked what the financial benefits are for construction companies using GiB’s licensed wood products, Mr Driver said “We all operate in a competitive market place and British timber is well placed to meet the needs of the construction industry”.  

To sign the UKCG preference statement please contact Helen Bentley-Fox on 07747 014621 or email: