Falkland Islands sheep may safely graze thanks to fence posts from Wales

Clifford Jones Timber, Ruthin. Alan Jones, chairman

Fence posts made from North Wales timber are keeping sheep from straying in the far-off Falklands Islands.

Every year a consignment of 4,000 fence posts weighing 20 tons from Clifford Jones Timber in Ruthin is trucked down to Portsmouth on the first stage of an 8,000 mile journey to the South Atlantic.

From there the cargo is shipped to Port Stanley on a journey that takes three weeks before the Falklands’ fencers use them to fence in the Islanders’ half a million sheep.

The fence posts are specially steam-treated by Clifford Jones Timber to prevent any contamination of the delicate eco-system of the Islands which lie 300 miles from mainland South America.

They are made from timber from sustainable forests, mainly in North Wales, with the Clifford Jones Timber plant in Brickfield Lane, Ruthin, processing 100,000 tons a year.

Chairman Alan Jones said: “It’s a special consignment which we fulfil every year and the fence posts are for the same purpose as they would be here, to prevent sheep from straying.

“I was in South American in Brazil last year and had hoped to visit the Falklands and perhaps see some of our fence posts over there but it became impossible after Argentina threatened to put a travel ban on anyone who had been to the Islands.

“It’s not a major contract for us obviously but we’re proud to be a supplier to the Falkland Islands and apart from the steam treatment to make sure no insects or other bugs hitchhike to the South Atlantic they’re the same fence posts that you can see all over the UK.”

Clifford Jones Timber, the UK’s largest manufacturer of fence posts, making four million a year – also prides itself on using every scrap of the 100,000 tons of sustainable timber which comes through its gates each year and even makes mini-logs from the off-cuts of the fence post production.

The company has been at its Ruthin base for 25 years and Alan Jones said: “When we started here there were two people employed here and now there are 90.

“Every piece of timber that comes through these gates is used. There isn’t any wasted and there aren’t many industries that can say that.

“We are constantly looking to diversify – about the only thing we haven’t found a use for just yet is the steam which is the only real residue of the operation and perhaps even that provides some rain for the farmers.”

As well as farmers and contractors who use their fence posts their list of customers includes Olympic gold medal-winning horse riders who use their horse bedding, the National Trust whose Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water is powered by their wood briquettes, as are a chain of pizza ovens in London, and Center Parcs.

Clifford Jones Timber, which has a second site at Gretna, in Scotland, won a £250,000 contract to provide over 600 glulam – laminated timber – lampposts for the leisure giant’s new 375-acre Woburn Forest holiday village which opened last year.

The wood pellet side of the business was launched in 2008 after the construction of a £5 million, 20,000 square foot factory at the Ruthin site on Brickfield Lane and it now produces 30,000 tons of fuel pellets every year for use in biomass heating systems.