James Jones & Sons showcases electric truck

29 June 2023

James Jones & Sons new electric truck arrived last week and made its first appearance at the Royal Highland Show.

Lorna Slater, minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, stopped by to find out more about the project and to see the new electric truck.

James Jones & Sons Ltd is partnering with Volvo along with Scotlog Haulage in a three year trial of electric timber trucks, funded by Scottish Forestry. The project is the first of its kind in the UK. Scottish Forestry has awarded £452,000 towards the trial, which will test the use of state-of-the-art electric timber wagons to transport timber.

Around 7 million tonnes of wood are harvested from Scotland’s forests each year and transported to sawmills, board manufacturers and other processors, mostly on 44 tonne diesel lorries.

The forestry sector, whilst inherently green, is keen to use modern technology to tackle timber transport issues as part of its overall efforts to decarbonise and reach Net Zero.

Announcing the funding package, Rural Affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon said “Forestry is vital to helping Scotland achieve its net zero target by 2045. Around 7.6 million tonnes of harmful CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere from Scotland’s trees each year and the timber used in houses and other wooden products lock away carbon for its lifetime.”

“The forestry sector is innovative and continues to adopt new technology to increase its business efficiencies. I welcome this new trial and look forward to hearing more about the findings as we drive closer to Net Zero.”

James Jones & Sons Ltd, one of the largest sawmill groups in the UK, will trial a 40 tonne articulated lorry from its sawmill in Lockerbie to transport timber to its Hangingshaw national distribution centre as well as trialling this vehicle in moving logs, co-products and sawn goods to its customers.

“Whilst James Jones & Sons is prioritising reducing timber miles through local round wood purchasing and selling sawn goods to markets close to the Group’s sawmills, the trial will give the industry a valuable insight into the suitability of such vehicles in the timber sector over the next three years,” said joint managing director, David Leslie.

“Timber is our only natural renewable resource and whilst transport is a major factor in the country’s CO2 emissions, growing commercial trees is the most effective way of capturing the CO2 and storing embodied carbon in timber products, such as construction timber and pallets, for the future.”

A key element of the three-year trial is that all the partners involved are committed to sharing their experiences of running the electric lorries with others in the timber and rural haulage sectors.

Creel Maritime consultants will monitor the use of the lorries and arrange knowledge exchange opportunities over the course of the following three years.

“In terms of road haulage, the timber industry is pretty advanced in looking for solutions to decarbonise,” said Neil Stoddart, director of Creel Maritime, which is managing the project.

“For example, we are reducing diesel lorry miles on many projects and opting for transport by sea. Additionally, we are reviewing using an alternative fuelled barge to transport logs across a remote loch in the Highlands.

“This is a very exciting project but there are big challenges in running articulated lorries on electric power, mainly on cost grounds and infrastructure. This three-year trial will look into all these aspects and I’m keen to share as much detail on this with the industry.”

Scotlog Haulage will trial a 44 tonne truck in the Highlands, moving roundwood timber from Inverness Harbour to West Fraser and other local mills.

The new electric truck was showcased at the Royal Highland Show
Representatives of the partners involved in the trial (from left to right): Roland Stiven, Scottish Forestry; Neil Stoddart, Creel Maritime; Lorna Slater, minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity; Calum Mathieson, Cleaner EV; David Leslie, James Jones & Sons