3 Jun 2023

Timber transport boost for Scotland

Sixteen new projects which help improve Scotland’s timber transport infrastructure, decarbonise the forestry sector and take pressure off rural roads used by communities, were given a funding boost today.

The projects will create new haulage routes away from busy villages, build passing places on narrow roads, upgrade existing fragile roads and promote the shipping of timber by sea.

Timber transport projects in Argyllshire, Perthshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Scottish Borders, Ayrshire and the Highlands will share in the £4 million funding.

Announcing the funding, Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon said:

“Our forestry sector has an important part to play in reaching Net Zero. I am pleased that the Scottish Government and local authorities are continuing to provide support to help the industry decarbonise, whilst also improving local transport networks.  That is good for our forestry industry, strengthening its ability to get timber to market.

“But it is also good news for rural communities which are regularly affected by timber wagons using their same routes that local people use too. With road widening works, diversionary roads and more passing places, communities will be less affected.”

Scotland’s forestry sector is a major driver in economic terms, supporting around 25,000 jobs and generating over £1 billion to the economy each year.

Around 7 million tonnes of timber is transported from Scotland’s forests to sawmills and processing plants. The funding support assists the industry find ways to manage this effectively, whilst minimising the effects on communities.

The Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is part funded by Transport Scotland, is  managed by Scottish Forestry.

Some of the projects which feature in this year’s funding round include:

 - £945,000 to support for the TimberLINK service which is enabling around 70,000 tonnes of timber each year to be moved by sea on the West Coast of Scotland;

 - £284,500 to Perth & Kinross Council to improve parts of the A93 to move 280,000 tonnes of timber including areas toppled by Storm Arwen. The road is currently well used by local communities and tourists.

 - £222,000 to Dumfries & Galloway Council to improve a stretch of the A711 through Dalbeattie which needs strengthened to carry an estimated 1,800,000 tonnes of timber over next 10 years.

- Highland Council to receive £245,000 to widen the approach to the Howford Bridge across the River Nairn on a route well-used by timber lorries bringing logs to the Gordon Timber sawmill in Nairn.

- £111,000 to Argyll & Bute Council for the continuation of improvement work on the road between Ballochandrain and Tighnabruaich through resurfacing and widening. This road serves a busy community and is forecast to carry 253,940 tonnes of timber over the next decade - typically going to onwards transport by boat from Sandbank.

Over the last 23 years, the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF) has contributed over £82 million towards improving Scotland’s timber transport infrastructure through 398 separate projects.

Overall, and considering the co-funded value through partnerships, the STTF leveraged a further £55 million to realise a total spend of £137 million.  

The fund also supports a network of regional timber transport officers and a national co-ordinator who all work to help forestry stakeholders identify local timber transport issues and seek solutions.