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Last Updated: Friday, 13 April 2007, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Fencers warn of timber shortages
Storm damage in London
Storms in January are said to have increased demand for fence panels
The UK is experiencing a shortage of traditional lap fencing panels just as the busy spring season gets under way, a trade organisation has said.

Fencing firms and DIY enthusiasts are said to be finding it hard to obtain stocks due to "unprecedented demand".

The situation was exacerbated by a rush on supplies after storms in January.

The Fencing Contractors Association said European timber producers had also been exporting more to China and Dubai which have seen construction booms.

"Several small to medium sized companies across the UK are unable to meet orders and are on the verge of ruin," said Wendy Baker, FCA chief executive.

"I have had complaints from both mills who can't source timber and from contractors who can't get hold of timber materials."

New stocks

Steve Powney, news editor of the industry publication Timber Trades Journal, said supplies could still be obtained but firms needed to be prepared to wait longer than usual for shipments.

"Lead times are being affected but I would not describe this as a crisis," he said.

"The overarching issue here has been the shortage of softwood in Europe caused by storms earlier this year and the big demand for timber worldwide."

He said Canada's decision to re-enter the timber supply market should help ease some of the problems.

John White, chief executive of the Timber Trade Federation, said there had been "unprecedented demand".

"Prices have also been rising because supplies have been shipped to parts of the world prepared to pay more," he added.

Retailers said fencing panel stocks were expected to be replenished in the coming weeks.

Home improvement chain B&Q said there had been an industry-wide "short-term shortage of timber for this type of fencing" and a rise in customer demand after the storms.

A spokesman for industry supplier Travis Perkins said demand for panels was up 300% on last year.

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