Left to right: Alex Brownlie (BSW), Hamish MacLeod (BSW) and Alistair Carmichael MP.
BSW Timber welcomes Secretary of State for Scotland
Published: 20 February, 2014
Alistair Carmichael MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, visited BSW Timber’s Fort William sawmill yesterday (19 February 2014), marking the latest stage of the mill’s £37m five-year investment programme.
BSW Timber started the commissioning phase of the mill’s expansion just over a year ago. The expansion is a major part of BSW’s £70m company-wide investment, bringing cutting-edge technology to all its mills as well as creating modern manufacturing sites and improved customer services across the UK. The company recently announced that 60 new jobs would be created at its Dalbeattie and Carlisle mills.
During the last five years, the Fort William site has benefited from a wide range of infrastructure and plant investment. Mr Carmichael was taken for a tour of the mill by director Alex Brownlie and mill manager Andy Rogers, where he met members of the production, technical and sales staff.
Welcoming Mr Carmichael to Fort William, Mr Brownlie said: “While today’s visit marks the next stage of a sustained programme of investment by BSW in the new Fort William mill, there are significant areas of concern for the future success of our business.
“Our investment programme for both Fort William and across the BSW group is based on confidence in a sustainable supply of sawlogs from British productive conifer forests. While we have sufficient supply for the next 25 years, the lack of new commercial woodland creation over the last 15 years is set to have a devastating effect on our industry in the longer term.
“We are in serious danger of seeing a decline in our business, risk to jobs and a return to heavier reliance on imports – unless we address this now.”
On a more local level, BSW emphasised that the company continues to seek a viable solution to use the rail siding at its Fort William site for incoming and outgoing timber.
Mr Brownlie added: “We have strong market links across the whole of the UK and distribute the majority of our sawn products by road. If we can make it cost-effective with the right form of support, we could shift much of this to rail for onward distribution, taking hundreds of lorries off the roads.”
Following his visit, Mr Carmichael said: “I was extremely impressed by BSW Timber. This is a UK-wide company training apprentices and making the most of the skills, labour force and resources available to them locally. They are also setting the bar high when it comes to exporting their quality materials across the globe
“From our employment allowance – which will provide Scottish businesses with a £100m boost – through to our extensive diplomatic and trade network opening doors across the globe, the UK government is doing all it can to help our businesses like BSW Timber flourish both at home and abroad.”