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Highland timber transport roads to get financial support for improvements during coronavirus pandemic


By Ian Duncan

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Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, in Clackmannanshire.
Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy, in Clackmannanshire.

Projects in the Highlands which help improve the timber transport network have been awarded £980,000 from the Scottish Government.

Forestry is included under Phase 1 of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 Route Map, which allows outdoor work such as forestry to fully restart its operations.

The award, to Highland Council, is co-financed and drawn from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund which is managed by Scottish Forestry.

The funding goes mostly to improve minor roads – improving surfaces, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures or providing passing places. All these measures will help keep the flow of timber moving to market and reduce impacts on local communities.

Announcing the funding Fergus Ewing MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Tourism, said: “Forestry is an important part of the rural sector, generating £1 billion to the Scottish economy each year and supporting 25,000 jobs.

“Throughout the Covid-19 green recovery, forestry has a very important role to play. We need to ensure that the infrastructure is there to support the industry on a number of fronts and assisting with getting timber to market is one of them.

“Getting these important timber supplies out relies on a good transport network and this funding will help ensure this is in place to allow a long-term sustainable forest industry.”

This welcome and very significant investment not only provides vital support to help the sector continue to grow, it also provides a real confidence boost at a difficult time.
Stuart Goodall

The roads to get improvements in the region include: B9090 Clephanton; B8004 Banavie to Gairlochy; and A839 Braemore to Benmore (Glen Oykel).

In addition, the funding will pay for the continuation of a timber transport project officer who advises and helps with generating local projects.

Currently, the forest industry is carrying out essential work through the coronavirus outbreak. Timber is being used to produce key products such as pallets and packaging which are needed to transport food supplies and pharmacueticals.

Stuart Goodall, the chief executive of Confederation of Forest Industries (UK) said: “This is a fantastic boost for Scotland’s forestry sector as we seek to recover from the harsh impacts of Covid-19. This welcome and very significant investment not only provides vital support to help the sector continue to grow, it also provides a real confidence boost at a difficult time.

“These are challenging times for everyone, and I’d like to pay testament to the support that Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing continues to provide to the sector. This is an industry that supports many thousands of rural jobs and contributes to tackling climate change as well as supplying essential products for the fight against Covid-19. Our partnership with Government helps us achieve more than we otherwise would be able to.”

Over the past 14 years, nearly £60 million of Scottish Government Strategic Timber Transport Funding has helped deliver around 280 projects across Scotland.

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