New west coast contract promotes timber transport by sea

The first shipment of timber by sea from Troon harbour

A NEW £2.6 million contract to move thousands of tonnes of timber by sea, instead of by road, aims to continue the Scottish Government’s commitment to help decarbonise the forestry sector.

Scottish Forestry has signed a three year deal with Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s leading ports group, for the TimberLINK service to move the timber from a number of ports in Argyll.

Over the course of the next three years, around 225,000 tonnes of timber will be shipped across the Firth of Clyde from Argyll’s forests to wood processors based in Ayrshire, instead of using timber lorries.  This will save around 2.2 million lorry miles, and nearly 4,000 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions.

The move will also result in 9,750 fewer lorry trips via the A82 trunk road. This will be of benefit to communities and visitors using this busy route, which passes the Rest & Be Thankful and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park area.

Welcoming the funding, Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:

“Scotland’s forestry sector is a success story, providing a great range of benefits. It generates over £1 billion to Scotland’s economy every year and supports around 25,000 jobs.” 

“We want to help grow this prosperity ensuring that we have a sustainable timber transport resource to help achieve this.”

“Where practical,  I am keen to see a modal shift to coastal shipping and away from using rural roads, helping to decarbonise the forestry sector and contributing towards Scotland reaching Net Zero.” 

“I’m also pleased that this project substantially reduces the number of timber lorries having to use the A82, which is a key route used by rural communities.”

Through the TimberLINK service, timber will be shipped from Argyll using ports at Ardrishaig, Campbeltown and Sandbank to ABP’s Troon and Ayr harbours, to be forwarded by lorry to wood processing plants in Troon, Auchinleck, Girvan and Irvine.

Stuart Cresswell, ABP’s port manager of Ayr and Troon, said: “The TimberLINK operation out of the Ports of Ayr and Troon is a real success story and I am delighted that this forward-thinking service will continue. The sea route not only reduces lorry traffic on rural roads but also uses less fuel and produces fewer greenhouse gases.”

“This project has created many growth opportunities for local businesses, both in Argyll and Ayrshire, and I feel confident that they will only strengthen and multiply with this continued operation.”

ABP has operated the service on behalf of Scottish Forestry since 2000.  The funding is made through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is run by Scottish Forestry and jointly financed by Transport Scotland.

In the last five years, around £33 million has been invested through the Fund into over 180 timber transport projects, helping over 47 million tonnes of timber get to market.

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