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Cash boost for timber transport projects in rural communities

By Niall Harkiss

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Successful awards will aim to address improvements to minor fragile roads. Photo: Liam Anderstrem
Successful awards will aim to address improvements to minor fragile roads. Photo: Liam Anderstrem

Local authorities and landowners across Highland and the rest of Scotland are being encouraged to work up their timber transport projects now so that they can be submitted to Scottish Forestry by midday on the March 21, 2022.

Winning proposals that minimise the impact of timber lorries on rural communities and road network will receive a cash boost from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF).

The awards mostly address improvements to minor fragile roads but will also look to support measures that help decarbonise timber transport. This could include the promotion of projects that transport timber by sea or rail, supporting the drive to meet Scotland’s net-zero targets.

Environment minister Màiri McAllan said: “Over the past 15 years, nearly £60 million has helped to deliver 292 timber transport projects through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund.

“We will be able to fund next year’s budget and subject to Parliamentary approval, intend to allocate £7 million towards the fund.

“We need to ensure that the right infrastructure is in place so that timber supplies can reach their markets. But we need to do this in a way that minimises disruption to rural communities and supports Scotland’s ambitions to reach Net Zero.

“I would encourage landowners and local authorities to work on their proposals now, so that they can be submitted in good time. This will also help Scottish Forestry award the grants as soon as possible.”

The STTF is part funded by Transport Scotland and managed by Scottish Forestry.

Much of the STTF goes towards work on minor B, C class and Unclassified roads. This might include improving drainage systems, strengthening or upgrading surfaces, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures or by providing passing places – making it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network.

Grant funding will continue through the fund for TimberLINK. This service enables timber to be moved by sea on the west coast of Scotland, removing nearly one million lorry miles a year from Scottish roads.

The fund also supports the work of one national and five regionally based Project Officers who engage with local authorities and forestry stakeholders to identify any local timber transport issues, and seek to identify potential solutions.

Local authorities and landowners wishing for more details can contact Roland Stiven, Scottish Forestry business support advisor here.

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