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New report spells out how timber industries can help solve housing crisis

by Jennie Ward

How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis’ report from The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries makes a number of recommendations including calls for a new focus on whole life carbon emissions within the Building Regs and the introduction of thresholds for embodied carbon within construction.

Recognising that the UK must build more homes, quicker, while reducing carbon emissions, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries has launched with a new report that it says aims to provide solutions to the UK’s housing and climate crises. 

The report, titled ‘How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis, calls on the Government to support the use of wood in construction through policy and procurement, as well as introducing legislation to regulate embodied carbon – starting with mandatory, standardised carbon measurement on all government projects. 

Launched on 16 September at the inaugural general meeting for the APPG, the report makes a series of key recommendations devised to help the Government reach its target of building 300,000 more homes per year, while also significantly boosting the trajectory towards net zero carbon. Crucially, the recommendations call for a new focus on whole life carbon emissions within the Building Regulations and the introduction of thresholds for embodied carbon within construction. 

The report also urges the Government to give preference to low carbon materials and building solutions for all government projects, pointing to the economic benefits that scaling up the timber and forestry industries would bring. Calls are also made in the report for a more joined-up approach to working with the timber industry to develop an industrial strategy that can align with government policy. 

Finally, the report highlights that while the Government has – ‘quite rightly’ – made building safety a top priority in the wake of the Grenfell fire, the regulations around combustible materials have not always reflected the realities of safe construction using timber, and a fundamental differentiation must be made between cladding and structural elements, with the report pointing towards an evidence-based approach to safety regulations. 

David Warburton MP.

David Warburton, MP for Somerton and Frome, and chair of the APPG, commented: “We are at a vital junction where the imperative to build more homes is converging with the urgent need to reduce carbon across all of our markets. Now is the time to put forward policies that will enable us to build a more productive and low-carbon housing sector. 

“By levelling-up the existing timber and forestry supply chain, and making greater use of modern methods of construction, we can deliver more quality homes – and we can do this sustainably and at pace.”   

Over the next Parliamentary session, the APPG for the Timber Industries says it will undertake a programme of activity to enable the timber industries to work with Parliamentarians to raise awareness of the vital contribution that the industries make to the UK economy and UK trade. It also says it will  focus on the importance of the timber industries achieving net zero 2050 and the opportunities which exist to support sustainable timber construction in the UK. For more information and to download the report ‘How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis’, please visit the CTI website.

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