Covid-19 Biomass Supply Chain Response

Covid-19 Biomass Supply Chain Response

15th April 2020

The global Coronavirus pandemic is impacting on every aspect of life at the moment, and biomass supply chains are also being placed under pressure from the outbreak.  While fuel supplies are continuing at the time of writing (14 April 2020), regular surveys of key players in the industry are highlighting some areas of concern which are being continually monitored on behalf of Forestry Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Guidance for Biomass Sector Employees

The UK government issued guidance on 7 April 2020 stating that :

“Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers. Only necessary workers, producing key goods, should continue to attend workplaces. Working from home should be encouraged for administrative staff.”

While in Scotland specifically, Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing stated on Thursday 26 March that :

Chainsaw operator

“In these challenging and difficult times, it is imperative that essential goods, such as food supplies and medicines, and biomass fuel for hospitals and care homes get to the places where they are needed.  This needs pallet manufacture and woodfuel processing to continue.”

If you work in a critical role in the biomass supply chain, providing fuel products for essential use, then you should continue to work – your role is important for protecting lives and keeping people and communities safe.  You should at all times follow Government and NHS guidance on social distancing and safe working, which can be found here : Government Guidance.

Defra has classified those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting and sawmills) as Key Workers, meaning you have permission to work from UK Government, and that childcare provision could be made for any children you have if you have exhausted the various alternatives set out by UK Government in their guidance.

Confor, the forestry industry trade body, have provided letters of comfort for Key Workers, which are available by following the link.

Impact on Biomass Sector Business Continuity

There are clearly implications for business continuity in the wider forest and timber processing sector which will inevitably impact on biomass supply chains as the Coronavirus lockdown continues.  As the supply chain for biomass fuel depends largely on the lower value timber products and forest residues which come from forest management, the continued flow of higher value products to sawmills and other processors is a key factor in biomass fuel supply chains.  With most major sawmills now closed or scaling back their operations, there are a range of implications being felt down the supply chain.

re:heat have been contracted to continually monitor the situation across Scotland for the Scottish Government and Forestry Scotland.  This monitoring involves regular phone and email surveys with a wide range of biomass industry businesses.  Summaries of the reports provided to Scottish Government and Forestry Scotland are provided below, and have been redacted where necessary to protect commercial interests.

Scottish biomass supply chains 1st April 2020 redacted

If you would like to be included on the survey list or sign up to receive the redacted reports as they are issued, please email [email protected] or call our office on 01665 665 040 and leave a message.  All our office staff are home working, so your message will be forwarded on and someone will call you back.