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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 March 2006, 01:26 GMT
Wood chip price rise 'hits north'
Wood chips
The SNP claims the north faces difficulty in chip supply
Highland communities which use wood burning stoves as a cost saving device could be faced with a shortage of chips to burn, it has been warned.

Prices are already rising dramatically, from 17 a tonne to 45, and wood chips may have to be imported from Estonia.

Scottish National Party Highlands MSP Rob Gibson has called for a processing plant to service the north.

There are about 50 swimming pools, schools and council housing schemes in Scotland with wood burning stoves.

The stoves were built on the promise that they would be half as expensive to run as oil heating systems and they would help to develop Scotland's forests.

But a distillery and housing scheme in Wick and a swimming pool and school on the north coast are all reporting huge increases in wood chip prices.

With the jump in prices, locals now say it would be cheaper to import wood chips from Estonia, at 32 a tonne.

Mr Gibson warned that they are being starved of Scottish wood chips because there is no processing plant in the nearby forest at Forsinard.

He also claimed that the railway system did not have the right wagons to carry the wood chips to the north.


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