Milestone hit in moving timber from road to rail
Rannoch Forest accessed by rail
A plan to transport timber by rail from a Highlands forest, replacing 4,000 annual lorry trips, has moved closer with the signing of an agreement with interested parties.
The Scottish Government is leading the project for a log stacking and timber loading facility, north of Rannoch Railway Station.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Scottish Forestry, BSW Timber, Fountains Forestry UK, Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Ferguson Transport and Shipping.
The project will see more than 50,000 tonnes of timber, currently moved out of Rannoch Forest each year via a fragile road, switch to rail.
As well as taking thousands of vehicles off the roads the project will remove an estimated 650 tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions annually.
Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “This is a tremendous achievement by all concerned.
Fergus Ewing: ‘tremendous achievement’ (pic: Terry Murden)
“Over the next 10 years there is forecast to be up to 50,000 tonnes of timber due to be moved every year from Rannoch Forest.
“This timber is important as it will boost the economy and safeguard jobs, but we need to extract the timber in a way that minimises the impacts on local people and the environment.
“The new rail facility should help achieve these goals and is a good example of the modal shift to using rail as a viable means for transporting timber.”
The proposed timber loading facility is to be located on Lord Pearson’s land, north of Rannoch Station.
BSW Timber will lead the construction and run the loading facility with the co-operation of the other partners.
Speaking on behalf of all the private sector partners, Tony Hackney CEO of BSW Timber said: “A tremendous amount of work has gone into the project to date and there is still a lot to do, however our ambition has always been to rejuvenate the rail access to the site and with support from all parties this will happen.
“The benefits to road users in general will be great utilising a forestry resource which at this time is inaccessible.”
Fountains Forestry will act as agents for the owners of a very large tract of commercial forestry which is located in the surrounding Rannoch area.
The next step in taking forward the project will consist of final discussions on the commercial deals and design of the siding, followed by submission of the detailed planning applications and subsequent approval.
Work will then be tendered and agreements put in place which should be as early as this summer.