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Timber exported from north-east Caithness for first time, says community councillor

By Gordon Calder

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TIMBER has been exported from north-east Caithness for what a local community councillor believes to have been the first time.

Bill Mowat, the vice-chairman of the Dunnet and Canisbay Community Council, said the sitka spruce trees – planted in the 1980s – were transported by lorry to be made into wood pellets at the Balcas factory in Invergordon.

The trees came from the Rigifa plantation near Phillips Mains at Mey.

The Balcas plant in Invergordon.
The Balcas plant in Invergordon.

Mr Mowat said: "I am delighted to see the trees coming to maturity and being exported to the Balcas plant in Invergordon. As far as I know there has never been an export of timber from north-east Caithness before.

"There were not enough trees for a cargo ship to come to Gills so they were sent south by lorry.

"Some people, at the time the trees were planted, said this would never come to anything – but we now are seeing the first export of timber from this area of the county.

"I welcome this development. The hope was that there would be enough trees planted to create a viable industry.

"It is a pity the industry stopped when it did as it provided useful employment for some people."

No-one from Balcas was available for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

The company is one of the largest wood product suppliers, with a turnover of around £100 million. The business has almost 400 employees, while 300 people are engaged in forest harvesting and haulage.

The company has its headquarters in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland but has several sites, including a combined heat and power plant in Invergordon.

It is involved in biomass renewable energy and helped lead the development of the market for wood-pellet fuel.

Its Brites wood pellets are used in wood-pellet boilers and wood burning stoves in homes and businesses throughout the UK and Ireland. According to the company, the pellets replace 750 million litres of oil in homes, commercial premises and industry.

Its timber products include construction timber, fencing and landscaping products and pallet and packaging material.

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