Thursday, June 2, 2011

Concrete Support for Freight Grants in Scotland

LaFarge Latest Recipient of Rail Transport Money
Shipping News Feature

SCOTLAND - Following on from the successful campaign to protect the Freight Facilities Grant (FFG) in Scotland - as reported in February - the devolved government of the country has announced that it is awarding £130,000 (US$212,500) to Lafarge Cement UK to provide enhanced facilities at four locations, enabling it to distribute bagged cement from Dunbar to Uddingston, Inverness and Aberdeen by rail rather than road.

According to both the Scottish Government and the U.K.’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) the grant will help remove some 3,500 trucks from Scottish roads per year by making it economical for LaFarge to transport their product by rail, with shipments beginning this summer.

The Scottish Government’s Housing and Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

"The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging a shift of freight movements to more sustainable modes of transport and this award is in addition to almost £4.2m invested during 2010-2011 to enable freight companies to do just this.

"Not only will this grant awarded to Lafarge Cement UK help keep thousands of heavy lorries off our trunk roads, it will also accrue environmental benefits worth in excess of four times the Government investment.

“An additional £2m for the Freight Facilities Grant was also made available in this year’s budget, with the continued aim to help businesses to remain competitive, whilst finding new and more sustainable ways to deliver their goods - reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a Greener Scotland."

The FFGs – which were discontinued in England last year for economic reasons – are capital grant schemes that aim to encourage the transfer of freight from roads to more sustainable rail and water options by helping companies invest in the facilities needed to compete in financial terms with road.

Proposals to disband them in Scotland led to a vocal campaign by freight organisations and environmental bodies which saw them reprieved by the devolved government. This latest award has been warmly greeted by the FTA .

“The latest news that Lafarge Cement UK has used the FFG to invest in the sort of facilities that will enable it to move more goods by rail, instead of road, is great news for Scotland. It shows we were right to fight to protect it and will hopefully encourage other forward-looking and environmentally-conscious companies to look twice at modal switch,” said Chris MacRae, the FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland.

“Wider adoption of the FFG by Scottish businesses will alleviate pressure on our road network and will improve the overall efficiency of the supply chain,” he added.

(pic: Thing of the past for Scotland? © LaFarge Media Centre)