BSW Timber’s sawmill in Newbridge-on-Wye, Powys, became the latest stop on the election trail when it hosted a visit from Prime Minister David Cameron on 17 April.
The company used the Prime Minister’s visit to announce its formal licensing by the government-backed Grown in Britain initiative, which promotes forests and forestry products manufactured in the UK.
BSW’s Newbridge site has benefited from more than £6m investment over the past eight years, making it the largest single-site sawmill in Wales. Last year it was confirmed that the mill had agreed a major deal with Natural Resources Wales to guarantee the supply of locally-sourced Welsh larch over a 10-year period, allowing for future expansion.
Welcoming the Prime Minister, BSW’s mill manager, Dave Burd, said: “This is a great opportunity to highlight the success of our operation here in Wales and the importance of supporting our supply chain – especially with the planting and supply of local timber.
“Having a guaranteed local log source will result in a major shift towards the supply of home-grown British products, which is the driving force behind our formal commitment to the Grown in Britain initiative. We have placed great emphasis in the last few years on working downstream with the UK construction sector to grow markets for UK timber, and we must now ensure that the business confidence of the sector is underpinned by continued investment in sustainably managed productive woodland.”
Mr Burd continued: “This gives us the confidence to continue to invest in the mill, and increased capacity means more shifts and more jobs for the area - especially for apprenticeships. As a rural employer, BSW Timber has a critical role to play in maintaining local wealth and employment. And we have shown over the last decade that our operation at Newbridge-on-Wye is going from strength to strength, thanks to a rolling programme of continued investment in plant, people and environmental improvements.”
Prime Minister David Cameron, said: “Backing businesses to create more jobs is central to our long-term economic plan. It was great to visit BSW Timber’s sawmill in Newbridge-on-Wye to see first-hand how their increased investment is allowing the company to take on more staff – providing more people in the area with the security and stability of a regular pay packet.
“I particularly enjoyed speaking to some of BSW Timber’s apprentices who are benefitting from proper training and the prospect of a better future. This is why a future Conservative government is committed to opening up 3m more high quality apprenticeships.”
Commenting on BSW Timber’s commitment to sourcing locally supplied timber, Grown in Britain chief executive, Dougal Driver, added: "The leadership shown by BSW to secure a Grown in Britain licence is fantastic news for the homegrown sector and gives us a terrific boost as we aim to create a sustainable future for our wonderful woods and forests.
"Buyers can now look for the Grown in Britain logo in depots and stores and back British business and enhance our woods and forests at the same time."