What Impact will Increased Timber Export/Import Have on UK Ports?
With Brexit uncertainties bringing a certain amount of unpredictability for UK industry, it’s always heartening to receive some good news for once. That’s why we were pleased to hear recent reports of massive growth in the international timber trade.
Sustainable and Renewable
Heightened awareness of climate change and a growing fashion for ‘raw’ materials in both domestic and commercial construction has led to an explosion in popularity for timber. Its unique strength as one of the most sustainable and renewable natural materials available means timber is more in demand than ever before and this popularity looks set to increase further.
In the UK, the Timber Industries’ All Party Parliamentary group is aiming to promote and grow the country’s timber supply chain, while the Confederation of Timber Industries is working to alert the UK government of the huge potential for growth in the industry – estimating that the timber market already contributes around £10 billion a year to the UK’s GDP.
Similar success stories are being seen all around the world; the European Timber Trade Federation has reported growth in the Belgian industry, with the sector achieving ‘better than satisfactory’ performance; Chinese ports in Taicang and Hong Kong have reported a 27% and 5.3% rise in timber passing through each port respectively; and, in Cameroon, raw and sawn timber now exceeds 50% of the country’s total exports – making it the highest non-oil export in the country.
Good News for UK Ports
With an increase in timber exports and imports, a number of challenges will likely arise for UK ports – specifically those with restricted space for timber storage – as well as a vital need to create new logistics solutions to contend with the unique issues inherent to the trade. For example, a more efficient management of container loads in countries where import of timber is significantly higher than export or vice versa.
However, for those ports specialising in handling both bulk and containerised material – between which timber exports and imports are currently estimated to be split down the middle – current development and the trade’s potential for even further growth is certainly good news. Shoreham for instance, already one of the UK’s biggest timber handling ports, has just completed work to extend its 40,000 square metres of covered storage by another 6,000 square metres – for the express purpose of being able to store greater volumes of timber.
It’s also great news for us here at Waller Transport, where timber haulage has long been one of our greatest strengths. From roundwood and sawnwood to plywood, timber frames and co-products, we have the specialist vehicles required to move even the biggest timber loads across the UK – especially from our depot in Hull. We specialise in return loads solutions specifically designed to tackle inefficiency and have spent years building up relationships with reliable timber haulage partners to ensure our solutions are just as reliable and sustainable as the timber itself.
We’re excited to see what the future brings for the timber sector and to contribute in our own way to the growing popularity and development of this vitally sustainable and renewable resource.