A RUTHIN timber firm has raised concerns over the merging of the industry’s public bodies.
A new single organisation is planned to bring together the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency Wales, and the Forestry Commission Wales.
Alan Jones, chairman of Clifford Jones Timber Ltd, is urging those involved with the merger to take into account the importance of the timber industry to the Welsh economy.
He said: “The forest industry within Wales is very diverse and is made up of a varied range of contributors, which together generates some £841 million to the Welsh economy and provides 10,000 direct and 8500 in-direct jobs throughout both the urban and rural communities.
“We feel that their security must be seen as a priority.”
A consultation about the merger has been launched this month which will last until May.
Plaid Cymru’s North Wales AM Llyr Gruffydd visited staff at Clifford Jones Timber Ltd to discuss the issue and said there are concerns planting deciduous trees to safeguard
nature would be a priority rather than conifers for the timber industry.
He said: “There are increasing concerns the business case for merger has not been made and AMs sitting on the Environment Scrutiny Committee will be looking to test the robustness of that case.
“I have to say the importance of the forestry industry in Wales means we cannot allow this commercially important sector to lose its distinctive voice.
“Before any changes are made by the Labour Government to the current set-up, they must ensure the best interests of workers and enterprises in the timber industry within the wider rural community are safeguarded.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "A single body will ensure the most sustainable management of Wales’ natural resources.
“Not only will it result in a more streamlined way of working, it will also ensure more effective delivery, improved value for money and better outcomes for Welsh people, Welsh businesses and the environment.
"The consultation covers the legal changes needed to establish the new body, its overall purpose, arrangements around customer and stakeholder engagement, accountability and transparency, and the Welsh Government’s wider ambitions for the new body. Organisations and individuals have until the May 2 to submit their views.
"The Environment Minister, John Griffiths, visited Clifford Jones Timber in Ruthin last November and appreciates the important role the timber industry plays in the Welsh economy."