The UK is pledged to incorporate the EU Timber Regulation and EU FLEGT and FLEGT licensing rules in its statutes post-Brexit, according to Therese Coffey, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Ms Coffey was speaking at a parliamentary reception organised by the UK Confederation of Timber Industries, the umbrella organisation for a number of timber sector associations.
“When the UK leaves the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will make sure the whole body of European environmental law continues to have effect in UK law. That [includes] two regulations that the UK timber sector played a great role in shaping: the European Union Timber Regulation and the Forest Law Environment Governance and Trade Regulation,” she said. “We are committed to supporting sustainable and legal timber and forest industries and recognise the value of the EUTR and the EU FLEGT initiative in assuring this.”
This was believed to be the first time that a UK minister had made a definitive statement of this kind and was welcomed by the audience of forestry and timber sector organisation representatives and leading businesses.
“The UK timber sector was at the forefront in the development of the EUTR and the EU FLEGT initiative and the vast majority of our members support their retention post-Brexit,” said David Hopkins, UK TTF Managing Director, and Director of the CTI. “The EUTR is a business friendly, flexible regulation to ensure goods are sourced responsibly, protecting the environment AND business reputation. Abandoning the regulation [and support for the EU FLEGT initiative] now would cause unnecessary upheaval and market confusion. I would like to thank the Minister for this commitment and giving us the certainty our sector needs.”
The TTF is currently hosting an exhibition called TIMBER TRANSFORMER to highlight the process behind the FLEGT initiative and the positive benefits which it brings to society, environment and economy in countries which are going through the VPA process. The exhibition is at the Building Centre, London and runs until March 30th.
The IMM is also hosting an EU FLEGT initiative trade consultation at the same venue on March 8, open to the whole timber supply chain. The event will include a tour of the TTF exhibition, presentations on latest EU FLEGT developments and break out discussion sessions on key related topics.