Bishop of St Albans asks Government about tree health and biosecurity

In the House of Lords on 3rd September 2020 during questions to Government about the rate of tree planting in the UK, the Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked about its tree health resilience strategy:

The Lord Bishop of St Albans [V]: My Lords, it is encouraging to hear about the progress being made, but we are fighting a losing battle if we continue to import saplings rife with diseases that then kill significant numbers of trees. Will the Minister update your Lordships’ House on the tree health resilience strategy and what other steps Her Majesty’s Government are taking to increase biosecurity?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]: Biosecurity is enormously important, not least because we are an island nation. We announced a £2 million partnership investment, which I mentioned earlier, alongside the Scottish and Welsh Governments. The Government support the Grown in Britain agenda and the Woodland Trust’s UK sourced and grown assurance scheme. Any initiatives which increase domestic production and grow more trees and plants in this country are welcome and will merit government support. In addition, for exactly the same reason, we are taking steps to increase demand for domestically grown timber. Demand massively exceeds supply in this country: we import 81% of the timber and wood products that we need, while only about 23% of homes in England are currently built with timber frames, compared to 83% in Scotland. We want to reverse that ratio as much as we possibly can to stimulate demand and the sector, while encouraging more tree-planting.

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