A Statutory Notification Scheme for Firewood Imports
Alex McAuley, Policy & Development Officer at ICF, examines the potential impact of a new Statutory Notification Scheme on firewood imports.
The Institute is concerned that as it becomes increasingly more economically viable to import solid fuel wood, particularly from other European countries, that this may result in the introduction and movement of harmful pests into the UK. It is essential that the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Forestry Commission (FC) provide adequate resources to monitor and protect our natural resources from pests and diseases. One encouraging step is the proposed introduction of a Statutory Notification Scheme (SNS) for imports of firewood. The scheme would require all importers importing fuel wood into England and Scotland, other than those already required to be registered with the FC, to be registered with the FC and to pre-notify all consignments prior to landing.
The effects of ash dieback ©Forestry Commission/Joan Webber
Whilst we appreciate that the SNS cannot put an end to illegal timber imports, its introduction will help mark a move toward pre-notification of all imported consignments of solid fuel wood, whether from the EU or third countries. We hope that SNS will not only mean that all imports will meet the FC landing requirements but also that plant health authorities will have greater control at monitoring whether unregulated material is entering the UK and the level of pest-risk. It is anticipated this intelligence gathering (in conjunction with the UK Plant Health Risk Register) will then inform whether a change in legislation is required.
In June, the FC ran a consultation to assess the views on the scope and means to implement the SNS. After consulting with ICF members, the Institute’s response urged the FC to actively enforce the landing requirements for non-compliant imports. In order to ensure compliance, we argued that it is essential that the landing requirements are clear and transparent. Should the SNS come into practice then it will be important for the FC actively publicise, engage and inform stakeholders of the requirements. ICF members felt that this should also extend to European traders shipping into the UK, who possess minimal knowledge of UK regulations. It is also important that the FC fully engage with the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales to ensure all of the UK is given the same level of protection, as this consultation only related to England and Scotland.
Development of the SNS is at a very early stage. ICF will continue to engage with the FC and keep members informed.
Should you wish to read the full response then please visit the Members’ Area.