New timber laws

Published:  11 February, 2013

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 Regulations aim to limit sales of illegally harvested timber and timber products in the EU by imposing stricter requirements on timber merchants and suppliers.

Firms 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.

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