ConFor, James Jones & Sons Ltd and Crown Timber plc all sent submissions to the parliament’s local government and transport committee inquiry into freight transport in Scotland which met last week.

In its submission, ConFor said that around 40,000 jobs in Scotland depend on the forest industries, and that if the sector disappeared gross output would fall by £811m. Both the jobs and the industry depend on an active and competitive haulage sector.

ConFor said that increasing fuel costs and the WTD caused operating costs to rise by 20% last year and these, combined with industry codes of practice, regulations and voluntary agreements, are forcing hauliers out of business.

And, it said, the cost of hauling finished goods from Scotland to south-east England is more than the cost of shipping for Scandinavian competitors.

In its submission, James Jones & Sons said that its DERV costs alone rose by 12% last year, adding more than £400,000 to its cost base, while the WTD has caused a further 20% cost base increase and a driver shortage.

Crown Timber cited the cost of diesel and insurance premiums plus the WTD as affecting its performance and said it is imperative that the matters are addressed as a matter of urgency if the UK’s distribution business is to maintain its professional service.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Parliament said the submissions form part of an ongoing enquiry and that a report of recommendations is expected before the close for the summer recess.