Construction needs 'home-grown' supply chains

24 June 2021

A radical rethink of the supply chain, including sourcing locally, is needed as a catalyst for a more sustainable economy, a Scottish construction sector body has said.

The Scottish Construction Leadership Forum (CLF), working with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, is launching a series of best practice studies to help the industry redirect itself away from dependence on imports and support a green recovery.

The forum said the Scottish construction industry was being hampered by global materials shortages.

Ivan McKee, Scottish Government minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise and CLF chair, said: “Developing home-grown supply chains improves resilience, supports net zero and helps raise the economic benefits for Scotland. We have a good track record here of standing up local supply chains in PPE and other commodities.”

According to CLF, around 60% of materials used in UK construction projects are imported from the EU. The figure is 90% for supplies such as softwood timber for new-build housing. Cement, steel, aggregates and plastics are also difficult to obtain, the forum said.

As part of a recovery plan, the CLF is proposing the industry in Scotland needs to look to longer-term transformation to help build a stronger and greener economic future. The best practice case studies show how industry can contribute more to local economies and play its part in supporting local suppliers, the forum said.

Peter Reekie, chief executive of the Scottish Futures Trust and chair of the executive group of the CLF, said one of the most effective ways of moving towards net zero carbon was to use local resources and recycled materials.

“We hope that by raising the profile of these successful cases, we will inspire other businesses in Scotland to think more locally, and to consider the impact they could have on carbon reduction, supply chain issues and employment,” he said.

The projects highlighted by CLF include the community-led East Whins Eco-village near Forres, the NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital in Glasgow, and the University of Glasgow Campus.

Local supply solutions include companies making bricks and concrete from construction industry waste products, and a company which manufactures insulation panels from locally-grown industrial hemp.

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