Plant Passporting

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 4th December 2019.

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Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

The sector fears that the consequences of missing the deadline and failing to provide a solution could be very serious indeed. It is difficult to quantify, but we are talking about potentially very large costs. That is why I have been pressing the UK for some considerable time to agree a new system to deal with the issue. It was unfortunate that a technical meeting that had been planned for stakeholders to attend on 25 November was unilaterally cancelled by the UK Government. I intervened at that point to ask why, since purdah did not appear to be applicable. I am pleased to say that—probably as a result—the meeting has been reinstated for 5 December, which is tomorrow. However, that leaves little time to put in place a system by the deadline, as Mr Beattie knows. Therefore, there has to be a period of grace to allow the industry to implement the new arrangements. Otherwise, the consequences for the sector could be very serious indeed, at a time when the sawmill sector is experiencing considerable pressure.