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Urgent action called for on building materials shortage

Construction unions call on employers to ensure extra protections for workers

Urgent action called for on building materials shortage

MEP Deirdre Clune has highlighted the problem

A severe shortage of materials is impacting the building sector across Europe. Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has highlighted the need for action on increasing the supply of building materials into the Irish market.

MEP Clune, along with other MEPs have raised the issue with the Commission.

MEP Clune said: “The shortage of building materials is just another one of the many consequences of the pandemic. The industry has highlighted that a drop in US and Chinese timber production caused a price surge in materials and this resulted in a strong diversion of European timber to such international markets, which has caused supply bottlenecks in our regions.”

In their letter MEP Clune and the MEPs highlighted that since summer 2020, prices for industrially processed wood saw a steady increase of 30% to sometimes 60%. Whereas last year crafts businesses used to buy their wood for around €250/m3, they now have to disburse €450/m3.

“There is huge demand for materials from carpenters, roofers and consumers for materials. Building and construction firms are finding themselves unable to fulfil orders due to the lack of materials. Firms and consumers are now facing higher costs and longer waiting times for their construction and renovation projects. We have called on the European Commission to take the necessary actions to remedy this,” she said.

In response to the issue raised by the MEPs, European Commissioner Thierry Breton said that he shares the concerns raised about the substantial price increase of industrially processed wood faced by the construction sector.

He said: “It appears that the increasing price of timber and processed wood in the EU and elsewhere is predominantly due to a general global demand-supply imbalance. The COVID-19 crisis impacted supply, and now demand is increasing worldwide in the recovery phase. Stock levels are low and supply is not adapting quickly enough.”

He highlighted that the extended temporary framework for State Aid and EU financial instruments are available to help address the short-term economic constraints facing small and medium-sized enterprises due to surging prices.
MEP Clune has also called for swift action in reducing the licencing waiting lists of the forestry sector in Ireland, which she said will help the industry.

“I understand the Government has made it a priority to bring down the average timeframe from nine months and has set a target of issuing 4,500 forestry licences in 2021. We are growing a lot of timber in Ireland and we must address the issue as it is having impacts on the supply of raw material going to the sawmills.”

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