PROJECTS which will improve Scotland’s timber transport infrastructure have been awarded £7 million from the Scottish Government.

Work to upgrade fragile rural roads, the creation of new forest haulage routes, passing places for communities and the promotion of moving timber by sea are all sharing in the cash boost.

Timber transport projects in Aberdeenshire, Angus, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire, Stirling and the Highlands have all shared in the funding support.  

Some of the key projects include:

  • £900,000 towards TimberLINK, which moves around 100,000 tonnes of timber by sea from Argyll to Ayrshire, reducing ‘timber miles’ and the number of lorries using the A82 over the Rest and be Thankful.
  • £340,000 to Stirling Council to improve passing places in east Loch Lomond where timber traffic shares the road with high visitor numbers.
  • £2.2 million to a range of road improvements in the Highlands where much of the timber traffic is on minor roads.

READ MORE: £15 million woodland creation grant opens for applications

Announcing the funding, Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, said: “A green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is imperative and, as part of that, we are committed to supporting our forestry sector given its role in our transition to net zero. The sector also provides thousands of jobs and generates around £1 billion to our economy each year.

“By improving our timber transport network, we can help the industry get its timber to market and ensure economic benefits continue. It will also reduce the effects that timber lorries can have on small local communities.”

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

In the last five years, the Scottish Government has invested around £41 million through the fund into over 200 timber transport projects, helping over 55 million tonnes of timber get to market.

In this year’s projects, stretches of local A-, B- and C-class and unclassified roads will be upgraded, and forest routes added to access sea transport or direct timber traffic away from communities. Upgrades to roads can include improving drainage systems, strengthening or upgrading surfaces, improving bridges, widening corners or adding traffic calming measures.

Passing places can also be added, making it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network.

Funding will also go towards the TimberLINK service which is celebrating 21 years of enabling around 100,000 tonnes of timber each year to the moved by sea on the west coast of Scotland.

A network of regional timber transport officers and a national co-ordinator continues to be funded to help forestry stakeholders identify local timber transport issues and seek solutions.

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