Efforts to minimize the impact of timber transport on Scotland’s rural roads have been given a £3 million boost.
The Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which has been running since 2005, part finances projects that facilitate the sustainable transport of timber in rural areas of Scotland for the benefit of local communities and the environment.
The additional support from the Scottish Government will be managed by Forestry Commission Scotland through the Strategic Timber Transport Scheme.
It was announced that £1M million of the additional funding will be used to continue support for the Timberlink public service which ships timber between Argyll and Ayrshire. The remainder of funds will support new projects which will come forward when the next application process begins.
Environment and climate change minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said: “Since its introduction, the Strategic Timber Transport Scheme has been very effective in promoting collaborative working between the timber industry and rural local authorities, greatly reducing conflict over the responsible use of the fragile rural road network to get timber to market.
“There are now solutions in place - or being worked on - across Scotland, from Eskdalemuir to the Flow Country, that have resulted in tens of thousands fewer timber journeys on public roads. It is a fantastic measure of success that all of the projects that have been supported have made communities, rural roads and the environment safer - and that is something the Scottish Government would like to see extended.
“This additional £3M comes at the right time. Scotland is forecast to see an increase in timber production over the next 20 years - from approximately 6.5M to potentially over 10M green tonnes per annum, which needs to be transported safely to processing facilities and with minimum environmental impact on local communities.”
To date the Fund has provided £23.1M to 99 projects - ranging from infrastructure for rail and sea transport to constructing in-forest haul routes and upgrading public roads - which, with match funding, are valued at £51M.
It is projected that over the next ten years a total of 25 million tonnes of timber haulage will be facilitated through STTS projects.