Local Labour MSP Colin Smyth has welcomed the news that a number of roads in South Scotland are to benefit from funding to improve infrastructure hit by the impact of timber transport- but has warned far more investment is needed to properly minimise the effect of timber lorries on the areas rural road network.

Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire are among eleven council areas to receive support in the latest round of funding from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund (STTF), managed by Scottish Forestry. The fund co-finances projects that include improving mostly minor rural roads – but each award has to be matched funded by the relevant local council.

Of the 34 successful 2019 funding bids, those awarded in the South of Scotland in this round include:

• Ayrshire – Carriageway Strengthening Improvements A713 – £223,500, Improvements to the U759 at Dalmellington – £66,500 and Improvements to the U27 at Deil’s Elbow South.
• Scottish Borders – B6357 Jedburgh to Newcastleton – £382,130, A701 Tweedsmuir to Tweedhopefoot – £129,150 and C34 Saughtree to Keilder – £187,425.
• Dumfries and Galloway – B709 near Eskdalemuir – £116,659, three sections on the B6357 – £44,499 and C22w near Kirkcowan – £70,683.

Colin Smyth said, “Any funding to improve roads in our area is welcome, but this won’t scratch the surface when it comes to the level of investment needed on roads being used to transport timber in our area. The level of timber being removed from our forests and transported across local roads is growing all the time and that is taking its toll on the condition of those roads. Unfortunately, the Government have cut the overall budget for the Timber Transport Fund this year and that impacts most on those regions such as ours which have large forest areas where there is a lot of timber extraction. We need the Government to do more to support communities who suffer as a result of the extra traffic caused by forestry and that means increasing, not cutting the fund, as there are roads across the region desperately in need of improvement”.

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