HS2 deepens materials crisis

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The huge infrastructure project Hs2 has been blamed for the materials crisis with many firms reporting to nationaltradesmen.co.uk that they are struggling to obtain timber and many other materials.

The huge problems are being reported by Hudson Contract and other large construction firms with one saying “how can we compete with Hs2” which said its clients are now running into serious supply problems.

The firm said contractors in the West Midlands were suffering most, caught in a regional squeeze from significant house building activity and major infrastructure projects in Birmingham including new stations for high-speed rail and facilities for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Timber and steel prices are now running at an all time high with world prices for sawn timber due to the reduced availability of shipping containers, and strong global demand as the economy struggles with Covid and supply chain issues.

Huge increases on the price of  timber have joined steel in seeing unprecedented price hikes during the pandemic.

Nick Boulton, Head of Technical and Trade at the Timber Trade Federation, said: “We are seeing demand for wood products continuing to increase at UK, EU and Global levels which coupled with ongoing supply chain disruptions caused by covid restrictions has inflated prices and extended lead times.”

Ian Anfield, managing director at Hudson Contract, commented saying that: “Our clients are reporting serious shortages in construction products on the ground.

“Clients are telling us the materials crisis is outstripping the skills shortage as the main threat to their growth prospects.”

He said: “We need radical solutions to address these problems, starting with a drive to promote local and regional supply chains in procurement.

“This will benefit our domestic manufacturing industries for steel and construction products and create skilled jobs in left-behind communities across the country.

“At the moment, the UK is simply outsourcing carbon emissions to other parts of the world and this over-reliance on imports has made us hostage to events beyond our control.

Anfield added: “Local authorities should ditch large framework agreements with the main contractors and implement ‘buy local’ policies to build up local businesses and their suppliers.”