After Covid-19 caused the wool price to collapse, a petition has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Defra Secretary to use wool as insulation for all Government grant supported buildings.
The grass-roots petition has urged Ministers to use British wool to insulate UK buildings following Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s announcement on July 8 that two-thirds of the cost of energy efficient home improvements will be paid by Government from September 2020 under the Green House Grant.
Mr Sunak also said £1 billion would be awarded to improve energy efficiencies and low carbon heating for public sector buildings.
It comes as sheep farmers across the UK opted to burn or compost fleeces to help offset wool handling and haulage costs, with wool prices for last year’s clip almost halved due to the pandemic’s impact on global wool markets.
The petition, which has more than 16,100 signatures, said: “Sheep farmers [now] receive less for their wool than the cost of shearing the sheep.
“Last year David Jones, received 28p a fleece and paid the shearer £1. This year the value is set to drop by at least half.
“Wool is sustainable, fire-retardant, bio-degradable, and the most efficient form of insulation.
“Please sign the petition because we want to revive our wool manufacturing industries, make this Government use our money to insulate our buildings with a home-grown sustainable product, help sheep farmers make a decent income from their fleeces, create manufacturing jobs and maintain the upland landscape.”
Stuart Fletcher, who farms 500 Lleyns and Texels in Tunbridge Wells, shared on social media his decision to compost this year’s fleeces, which went viral, attracting mass media attention.
Mr Fletcher said: “This is a very sad sight for me as a shepherd, but I think it should be for our country and whole environment.
“For millennia British sheep have clothed and insulated us in organic and biodegradable luxury, the envy of the world [..] and lives were transformed because wool was worth more than its weight in gold.
“Today we took the first load of fleeces I have shorn to a neighbouring arable farm to be composted. It is now worth less than the diesel I would need to take it to the depot in Ashford.
“Meanwhile people are walking around in man-made fibres derived from the petro-chemical industry, panicking that the oceans are filling up with plastic while blaming ruminants for climate change. Something is going wrong somewhere.”
The petition can be found by clicking here.
With sheep farmers encouraged to seek out alternative markets for their products this year, chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee (Efra), Neil Parish MP, visited Axminster UK, a British carpet manufacturer, on Saturday July 25 to find out how the company would like to help Covid-hit sheep farmers producing quality carpet-grade wool.
Purchasing hundreds of thousands of kilograms of UK wool per annum through merchants and direct from farmers, the company has urged farmers to get in touch at email@example.com if they produce wool which can be used in carpet production.