Increasing the levels of community, social and environmental benefit will be the main gain from £6.6 million of Scottish Government funding for projects that minimise the impact of timber lorries on Scotland’s rural road network.
Some of the main regions to benefit are Argyll (£1.78 million), Perth and Kinross (£795,910), Highland (£527,600), and Scottish Borders (£710,705).
Projects in Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, Moray, Angus, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and Aberdeenshire were also awarded funds.
The awards are drawn from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), managed by Scottish Forestry. The fund co-finances projects that will improve mostly minor rural roads throughout Scotland or that promote modal shift, taking lorries off the road and transporting timber to market by sea. One project to be awarded funding this year is the construction of a landing craft ramp at Allt Daraich, Argyll.
In addition, £800,000 has been awarded to support the TimberLINK shipping service which moves 80-100,000 tonnes of timber from forests in Argyll to markets in Ayrshire, taking nearly a million lorry miles off the public road.
Announcing the recent awards, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, MSP said;
“Scotland’s £1 billion forestry industry is going from strength to strength, producing millions of tonnes of high quality timber every year that will greatly benefit our rural economy.
“However, it is important that we do what we can to mitigate the impact on local communities of increased volumes of timber coming to market.
“That is the key purpose of the Timber Transport Fund and it is encouraging to know that local authorities and forest owners continue to bring forward project ideas that will facilitate the sustainable transport of timber and ultimately benefit local communities and the environment.”
As well as providing these wider community benefits required under the scheme, the funding also delivers benefits to the timber processing sector.
David Sulman of the Confederation of Forest Industries, and Chair of the STTF Assessment Panel, said;
“This funding is greatly needed to improve our rural roads to suit modern land uses such as forestry. Work on minor roads – whether it is strengthen the road surface, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures or providing passing places – makes it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network.
“The scheme also supports work to improve the freight capacity on some busy rural A roads, which is vital for shifting sustainably grown timber from Scotland’s forests to timber processing and manufacturing facilities.”
The projects supported not only ensure the continuing steady stream of quality timber to processors across the country but also reduce the number of road miles required to transport timber to market when shipping timber to market.
Of the 34 successful 2019 funding bids, some for the largest awards include:
- Angus – B955 & U405 Glen Clova/Glen Doll – £231,000
- Argyll – A816 Lochgilphead to Oban – £468,207
- Lochawe haulage routes – £633,529
- East Kintyre Haulage Routes B842 to Campbeltown – £403,923
- Ayrshire – Carriageway Strengthening Improvements A713 – £223,500
- Perth & Kinross – B827 Langside Road timber transport route improvements – £429,244
- Scottish Borders – B6357 Jedburgh to Newcastleton – £382,130
- Stirling – B829 Kinlochard by Aberfoyle – £244,808
The funding also supports the work of five regionally based Project Officers who engage with Local Authorities and forestry stakeholders to identify any local timber transport issues and seek to identify potential solutions.
All projects are required to meet the Strategic Timber Transport Scheme (STTS) funding criteria.