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Labour Candidate’s vision: Job growth through forestry and wood in East Lothian

 Saturday, February 3, 2024

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Former UK Cabinet Minister Douglas Alexander has seen the economic and employment benefits of forestry and wood processing at close hand after visiting a tree nursery and sawmill. Mr Alexander toured Glennon Brothers’ Windymains sawmill and Alba Trees, both located in the East Lothian constituency that he will contest for Labour at the next general election.

After the visits, organised by trade body Confor, Mr Alexander said: “It was great to visit these two excellent local businesses, which collectively employ more than 200 people – and to see how the forestry and wood industry can deliver on Labour’s green growth agenda.

“Glennons and Alba, and businesses like them, are providing jobs and economic growth in our rural communities and both continue to invest millions in technology and people to deliver further prosperity to East Lothian. On top of that, growing trees and using more wood plays a vital role in tackling damaging climate change.”

Pat Glennon, joint Managing Director of Glennon Brothers, which employs more than 900 people in the UK and Ireland (including 76 at Windymains, near Humbie), described the company’s work as “a green circle”.

“Trees are grown and harvested in Scotland, and processed in sawmills like ours to make timber frames, fencing and other products for homes and businesses in Scotland. And then we plant more trees to replace those we cut down – it’s a perfect green circle.” He also added further.

Mr Glennon added: “To successfully tackle climate change, the best sequestration machine is fast-growing conifers – not wall-to-wall Sitka spruce, but we must plant a strong conifer crop to provide the timber that we need to make the wood products everyone wants.”

Both Mr Glennon and Craig Turner, Chief Executive of Alba Trees, said the industry needed consistent policy-making if it was to thrive. The planned cut to tree planting grants in Scotland next year could mean the destruction of millions of young trees – and undermine confidence in woodland creation.

Alba has the capacity to provide around 25 million young trees for the forestry industry each year, almost a quarter of the entire UK supply. Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of Confor, who accompanied Mr Alexander on the visit said: “I was delighted to see that Douglas Alexander recognises the positive economic and jobs contribution that the forestry industry provides, especially in rural areas – totalling £1 billion annually in Scotland and providing well over 25,000 jobs.

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