Labour MEP for the North East Paul Brannen visited a commercial forest near Blanchland to see how the North East could create jobs by growing the forestry sector.
Paul will shortly present a report to the European Parliament on forestry. The visit formed part of a fact finding tour designed to help put the view from the North East at the heart of discussions in Brussels.
A recent report by a forest-industry led partnership suggested that 1,000 jobs could be created across the North of England in an industry that already employs 2,500 people. The North of England dominates timber processing and accounts for 50% of softwood processed. Forests are also key leisure destinations, for instance visitors to Kielder Water now spend £7m in the local economy every year. Forests are also a key environmental asset with 2.7m tonnes of carbon stored in the woodlands in the Northumberland National Park.
Paul Brannen said: “Northumberland’s forests are a real asset for the region which provide jobs, recreation and are a vital to our environment. As a member of the European Agriculture and Rural Development Committee I am really keen to accurately represent the region in Brussels. I will shortly be presenting a paper to the European Parliament and this visit has been really useful in developing that document.
Simon Hart of Egger Forestry added: “We enjoyed showing Paul around Winnows Hill woodland near Hexham. The wood is currently producing some 4,000 tonnes of certified sustainable timber from 10 hectares of felling. We discussed how this ground will be replanted in spring with a primarily commercial crop, securing timber supplies and jobs in 35-40 years time.
“Egger is pleased to see our local MEP taking an interest in forestry. There are great benefits forestry can bring to the local economy, particularly in remote parts of the county where employment opportunities are limited. However, to fully maximize value we need to be planting more new areas of commercial, multi-purpose woodland.”