Transport Minister Derek Mackay recently visited BSW Timber’s sawmill in Fort William to mark the successful launch of a shipping service that is helping the company boost sales in the south of England.
The new water freight service at Corpach, in the shadow of Ben Nevis, is operated by local company Boyd Brothers. The service was launched in November 2014 thanks to funding worth almost £960,000 provided by the Scottish government’s Waterborne Freight Grant.
The grant funding aims to reduce the number of HGVs travelling on main Scottish routes such as the A82 and M74. Latest government research predicts that more than 6,300 journeys will be removed from these roads during the first three years of operation.
Mr Mackay said: “The new Boyd Brothers shipping service is an excellent example of how the Scottish government can work in partnership with the private sector to deliver more sustainable freight transport options through modal shift. It is also very pleasing to see a close partnership approach between a freight operator and its customer, in this case BSW Timber, aimed at achieving greener transport solutions.
“Reducing lorry traffic on the A82 is good for the environment but also for users of the road whether they live in the area or are visiting this spectacular part of Scotland on their holidays. I welcome this great opportunity to visit such a thriving port which handles significant volumes of timber and timber products by sea much of which, without freight grant support, would have been transported by road.”
In 2015, BSW will use the service to ship more than 50,000m3 of sawn timber to its southern distribution centre in Essex, via the Port of Tilbury. Volumes are set to increase to over 100,000m3 by 2017, significantly increasing sales to meet growing demand across the south east of England in particular.
Tony Hackney, chief executive of BSW Timber, said: “The new shipping service has allowed us to significantly expand our logistics operation in southern England, linked to our new Essex-based southern distribution centre which opened in 2014. It is helping us feed the demand for the high-quality home-grown Scottish timber produced by our Fort William mill, driven by the upturn in the construction sector in London and the south east.”
Callum Boyd, director of Boyd Brothers, added: “We are delighted to be able to offer the sea freight service to BSW Timber. The vessel we are using brings grain up from England to be used in Scottish distilleries and is a good fit to take timber back south to Tilbury. The Waterborne Freight Grant has provided vital funding support in the first three years, until we can build up to more cost effective volumes in the future.”