Funding for Loch Arkaig electric timber barge

The main crossing area at Loch Arkaig. NO-F22-Loch-Arkaig-main-crossing-002
The main crossing area at Loch Arkaig. NO-F22-Loch-Arkaig-main-crossing-002

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Scottish Forestry has awarded over £1.66 million to timber transport projects in the Highlands, including one at Loch Arkaig in Lochaber.

The projects will improve the timber transport infrastructure, create benefits for rural communities and help de-carbonise the sector, which is important in achieving Net Zero by 2045.

The bulk of the £1.66 million will go to Highland Council for road improvements that will be co-financed by the local authority and the forest owners, with the remainder helping to ship timber at Loch Arkaig and Gorteneorn.

Announcing the funding, Environment Minister Màiri McAllan MSP said: ‘Scotland’s forestry sector supports around 25,000 jobs and generates over £1 billion to the economy each year.

‘Ensuring we have a sound timber transport network is a key feature to ensure economic benefits continue.

Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan. NO F22 Mairi McAllan - official photo
Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan.
NO F22 Mairi McAllan – official photo

‘The funding promotes timber transport projects that benefit rural communities too. I welcome projects that reduce lorry trips and take timber wagons away from villages and small rural roads.

‘In reaching Net Zero, it is also important that we help the forestry sector decarbonise. I’m therefore very pleased to see new projects coming forward on this and the continued promotion of shipping timber to market.’

At Loch Arkaig funding will help Woodland Trust Scotland build four slipways and a stacking and loading area on the shores of the loch to help move timber by an electric barge.

Barging timber across the loch will avoid the need for other haulage roads to be constructed through native woodland sites when getting timber to market.

The timber is being harvested from plantations on ancient woodland sites that will be restored to Caledonian pinewood.

The electric barge is innovative and will reduce carbon emissions.

Upgrading the U1640 Bunloit road will give timber transport access to two forestry estates,  a community of 30 homes and to part of the popular Great Glen Way.

Space for vehicles to pass pedestrians will improve safety where there is no footpath.

There will also be improvements to the C1223/24 road to Glenelg road which is used heavily by timber lorries, tourists and the local community.

The funding promotes timber transport projects that benefit rural communities. Photograph: Creel Consulting. NO F22 Creel Consulting copyright
The funding promotes timber transport projects that benefit rural communities. Photograph: Creel Consulting.
NO F22 Creel Consulting copyright

The funds will also support a private sector project to take timber out by sea at Gorteneorn on Ardnamurchan, avoiding the fragile stretch of road across Kentra Moss.

The cash boost is being made through the Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is managed by Scottish Forestry, with funding support from Transport Scotland.

Welcoming the funding for Loch Arkaig, project consultant Neil Stoddart said: ‘With the increased impetus on decarbonisation in the forestry sector, this award will negate the requirement for several miles of new forest road construction across deep peat.

‘The Scottish designed and built electric barge will be further complemented by the development of an HVO-fuelled timber forwarder machine to allow a truly green forest to mill supply chain to be established.’