This has happened since CCA use was suspended by the European Union back in 2006.
The survey was to establish a current view of the life expectancy of treated timber posts. Currently the life span is 15 years when treated to the UC4 specification (BS8417). They also looked at the impact on the industry of failures to reach this life expectancy.
This action was taken after discussions with the Wood Protection Association (WPA). They discussed the possibility of introducing a guarantee scheme. The scheme would compensate, in full, in the event of posts failing.
The AFI survey received a significant number of responses from fencing contractors. Almost 75% of responses were from companies where more than 50% of their business is timber in ground contact.
Over 75% of the respondents had experienced failures between 2006 and 2012. The figure rose to 90% for failures since 2012.
These failures are having a negative impact on all the businesses surveyed. Failures varying from at least one per year up to four or more per year for 60% of those surveyed.
The majority of users are currently using timber with alternative treatments. They are looking to use alternatives to wooden posts where they can.
The UC4 specification (BS8417) is well recognised by the industry. Almost three quarters of those responding using UC4 only for wood in ground contact.
The AFI has found a guarantee would be backed
There is no doubt that the industry has lost faith in the ability of suppliers to supply posts which can be relied upon to last 15 years in ground contact. 90% of the replies confirmed this.
The responses indicated that were a guarantee scheme available the majority of the industry would be behind it.
There was a general view that current treatments do not provide a consistent performance for life expectancy. As a consequence, chemically treated wooden posts are not fit for purpose.
The 15-year life suggested by UC4 may well be what the treatment companies wish to provide but, in practice, it fails all too often.
The AFI will continue to work on this issue for members and the wider industry.