Contractors importing timber from outside the EU must comply with strict new laws banning the use of illegal timber, due to come into force this March.
The EU Timber Regulation will outlaw the placing of illegally harvested timber and timber products on the EU market and is intended to impose stricter requirements on timber merchants and suppliers operating in the EU. But construction firms that buy timber or timber products directly from a supplier outside the EU will also have to conduct due diligence proving the source of the wood.
Firms affected by the law must provide evidence of compliance with legislation, plus information on their supply of timber products, a description of species, volume, country of harvest and, where applicable, concession of harvest, plus the name and address of the supplier. The system also requires a risk assessment of the supply and, where high risk is identified, mitigation to eliminate any potentially illegal timber.
Penalties for not complying with the law have not been decided, but they may include fines, seizure of the timber and immediate suspension of authorisation to trade.
“Although it is currently quite difficult to source illegal timber in the UK construction sector, there have been cases where it has been found and had to be removed from projects, which had serious implications on the cost and timescales of those projects,” said Anna Surgenor, senior technical adviser at the UK Green Building Council.
However, for most sites, compliance should not be an issue, she added: “The majority of large construction sites are set up for this, purely because it is an issue that has been included in BREEAM assessments, it’s an easy credit to obtain, and a target most projects will aim to achieve. Meanwhile, smaller contractors will be sourcing their timber from within the EU from the likes of B&Q or Travis Perkins, who must comply with the new regulations.”