A scheme that cuts the number of lorries on the notorious Rest and Be Thankful pass is among forestry transport projects around the country to share a £7million Scottish Government funding award.
The cash boost is aimed at promoting movements by sea, upgrading ‘fragile’ rural roads and creating passing places for communities, as well as new forest haulage routes.
Projects in Aberdeenshire and across the Highlands will be among those to benefit.
The TimberLINK scheme, which moves round 100,000 tonnes of timber by sea from the Argyll ports of Ardrishaig, Campeltown and Sandbank to Ayrshire, has been given £900,000.
It has been credited with removing around 8,000 lorry journeys each year from busy tourist routes in Argyll, including the A83, from Tarbet to Campbeltown, where landslips have plagued the road at the Rest and Be Thankful for 13 years.
Improvements to minor roads
Across the Highlands, where much of the timber traffic is carried on minor roads, £2.2m has been committed to improvements.
Council-led projects in Aberdeenshire have been awarded £426,580. Most of the money will go to improving surfaces, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures, or providing passing places on minor roads.
Locations for the work include the A97 at Logie Coldstone to Tillypronie, the A93/80 at Neil Bridge and the C565 at Suie viewpoint to Knockespoch.
The awards have been made through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is part-funded by Transport Scotland and managed by Scottish Forestry.
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 £1billion 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.”
Schemes in Angus, the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Stirling and Ayrshire will also benefit from the funding round.
Scottish Forestry said that, in the last five years, the Scottish Government has invested £41m through the fund into more than 200 timber transport projects.
The scheme helped fund the development of a floating pier at Ardcastle, near Ardrishaig, which it was estimated could unlock £10m of the area’s timber supplies.