Transport fund receives boost

25 May 2018

The Strategic Timber Transport Fund has received an increase in its budget for the second consecutive year.

Speaking at the Timber Transport Forum in Inverness in March, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing MSP announced a budget of £7.85m for the coming year 2018/19.

In 2017/18 a record £11m of investment, including £7.05m from the Scottish government, supported 50 projects to improve rural road networks.

Before the conference Mr Ewing had said that getting timber from the forests to processing plants was “an integral, imperative part of the £1bn success story of the Scottish forestry sector”.

Norbord fibre buyer Kevin Thomas described the challenges of supplying the company’s OSB plant with wood fibre primarily from the Highlands but increasingly other parts of Scotland, including deliveries by boat from Argyll, while civil engineer Colin Mackenzie outlined the financial challenges for the Highland Council to maintain the long lengths of aged rural roads.

He called for continued improvement in quality management of timber haulage to ensure the supply chain recognised the need to adopt road-friendly technologies and practices and, where necessary, limit lorry traffic.

The conference also heard that transport would continue to be challenging as the Scottish government planned to increase new planting from 10,000ha per year to 15,000ha by 2024-25.

In some cases weak minor road infrastruture was limiting the potential for woodland creation.

The conference, sponsored by Volvo was attended by more than 150 foresters, timber hauliers, timber processes and local authority road engineers.