Only four per cent of Welsh-grown timber is used in construction despite 95 per cent of harvested Welsh timber meeting the construction grade, Powys County Council’s Cabinet has heard this week.
Now the council has been at the forefront to address this with the introduction of its Wood Encouragement Policy in 2017 and by leading a pioneering project designed to encourage greater use of Welsh timber in the construction industry.
Home-Grown Homes was launched to identify and test interventions that could have a transformative impact on the Welsh timber construction supply chain and on the delivery of low carbon social housing in Wales.
The initiative, led by Powys County Council and funded by the Welsh Government and the EU Rural Development Programme, was launched in April 2018 and completed in March 2021. The research project was delivered by Woodknowledge Wales with project partners Cardiff Metropolitan University, Coed Cymru and BM TRADA.
The Project is currently looking at a further phase which will look to implement the learnings of Home-Grown Homes on a wider scale.
On Tuesday, July 6, Cabinet heard that the outputs of the pioneering project have influenced house builders, local authorities and housing associations, who are considering the use of timber in the construction of affordable and other homes to meet their carbon reduction targets.
During the project, housing associations such as Wales & West Housing have adopted policies making timber the first-choice material for their build programme, similar to the council’s own Wood Encouragement Policy.
Cabinet also heard that, thanks to the project, the Welsh Government has specified timber within its draft Development Quality requirements for new social housing as a material of choice for delivering low-carbon, energy efficient homes.
Cllr Iain McIntosh, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Economic Regeneration, said:
“During its lifespan, the project has enjoyed successful collaborations and has enabled the council to build on relationships with various Welsh Government departments including Housing, Forestry and Economy as well as organisations such as Natural Resources Wales, all of which have been represented on the project’s steering group.
“Our sponsorship of the Home-Grown Homes project shows our positive leadership role in reducing the carbon footprint of our affordable homes. We remain the only council in Wales and the UK, and one of only a few in Europe, with a Wood Encouragement Policy.
“Phase Two of the Home-Grown Homes project, which is currently being considered by the Welsh Government for funding, will aim to influence policy to advance the development of Welsh timber for products such as timber windows and wood fibre insulation.”