Fergus Ewing has reminded local authorities and land owners that they could miss out on funding support for Timber Transport projects if they don’t get application proposals in by the 9th March deadline.
The Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), managed by Scottish Forestry, provides co-funding for projects that minimise the impact of timber lorries on Scotland’s rural road network.
Mr Ewing, said;
“Over the past 14 years, nearly £60 million of Scottish Government funding has helped to deliver a substantial number of projects to improve mostly minor rural roads throughout Scotland or that promote modal shift, taking lorries off the road and transporting timber to market by sea. This government support has been instrumental in securing co funding of £30 million and the completion of 248 projects across Scotland.
“Over the past 5 years alone, £28 million of that funding has led to a total investment of over £40 million in works to minimise the impact of transporting timber to market on communities and the environment.
“The fund began with £3 million per annum in 2005 but now disburses £7 million each year to help the sector, to improve our economic and environmental performance, to unjam bottlenecks and to work with local authorities, which welcome the work that we have done on timber transport.
“We will be maintaining this level of investment in the coming year and look forward to seeing more projects come to fruition,”
Work on minor B, C class and Unclassified roads – including drainage, strengthening, improving the road surface, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures or providing passing places – makes it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network. A number of in-forest bypass roads have also been created .
In addition the TimberLINK Service, supported by the fund moves timber by sea on the west coast of Scotland, removing nearly one million lorry miles a year from Scottish roads.
This has delivered substantial social and environmental benefits to local communities and has helped alleviate some of the pressures that have arisen from the continuing success of Scotland’s £1 billion forestry industry.
Mr Ewing added;
“The Timber Transport Fund helps to realises projects that deliver benefits today and which will support ongoing investment in new forest well into the future.
“The fund has been a terrific success story in Scotland, and I am grateful to all the Regional Timber Transport Groups (RTTG) throughout Scotland that work hard to identify potential candidate schemes for submission to seek funding support through the competitive bidding process.
Local authorities and forest owners have long been engaged with this project and I would encourage them to bring forward more ideas before we reach the March deadline.”
Scotland’s rural economy benefits hugely from the millions of tonnes of high quality timber produced every year and the STTF mitigates the impact of these increased volumes of timber coming to market.
As well as providing these wider community benefits required under the scheme, the funding also delivers benefits to the timber processing sector.
The scheme also supports work to improve the freight capacity on some busy rural A roads, which is vital for shifting sustainably grown timber from Scotland’s forests to timber processing and manufacturing facilities.
The projects supported not only ensure the continuing steady stream of quality timber to processors across the country but also reduce the number of road miles required to transport timber to market when shipping timber to market.
The funding 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.
All projects are required to meet the Strategic Timber Transport Scheme (STTS) funding criteria.