Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thatched roof straw shortage

Traditional thatched roofs on quaint British cottages are under threat because of a severe shortage of the type of straw used to make them.

Planning and heritage authorities have routinely insisted on the use of long-stemmed wheat straw for roofs on thatched cottages.

However many of Britain's long-stemmed wheat straw growers have lost their entire crop this year, while some have managed to save between 30 and 40 percent of what they expected to harvest.

The National Society of Master Thatchers (NSMT) has described the shortage as critical, while English Heritage is calling on planners to allow the use of a wheat-rye hybrid or thatch imported from Europe.

"Even if we have the very best harvest on the planet this year it will all go in a flash because we have so many properties waiting," a NSMT spokeswoman told The Times newspaper.

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