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Closure of Welsh HWRCs will impact biomass plants, warns WRA

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The Wood Recyclers’ Association (WRA) has urged the Welsh Government to take urgent action to safeguard the supply of waste wood to biomass plants and other facilities.

Wales entered into 17-day lockdown on 23 October and announced household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) were to close as part of the measures.

Andy Hill, chair of the WRA, said the closure of HWRCs in Wales will have a detrimental impact on Welsh businesses that rely on the supply of waste wood to run their operations.

The organisation highlighted Margam Green Energy, a Welsh biomass facility which relies on feedstock supply from Welsh recycling centres. The £160 million (€176 million) plant employs approximately 400 people and generates renewable electricity for up to 75,000 homes in South Wales.

WRA Kronospan, which is the world’s largest producer of wood-based panel products, could also be affected by the closure of HWRCs. Kronospan is based at Chirk in North Wales and has been operating there since 1973. It has a turnover of £234 million (€257 million), with 654 employees – 90% of whom live within a 10-mile radius of the site.

“If the waste wood supply stream is stopped during this lockdown period, the feedstock for these major Welsh businesses will be seriously compromised,” said Hill. “They will lose around 2,500 tonnes of material on top of the losses they have already suffered due to previous COVID-19 restrictions.

“We know that during the last lockdown measures were put in place to ensure that HWRCs could operate safely and all we are asking is that these same measures are put in place this time. This would ensure that wood recyclers are able to source the raw material they require to keep these key Welsh businesses and others functioning.”