Today’s Scottish budget announcement will bring some benefits to the country’s supply chain and help maintain its position as a net exporter of goods, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA). However, with spending on freight industry projects being slashed to less than a third of current levels it would seem that the freight industry will shoulder a disproportionate burden in narrowing the public sector deficit.
In accord with FTA’s own pre-budget submission, there are some benefits to be found in today’s Budget announcement: the protection of key projects including the Forth replacement crossing and the M80 being perhaps the most significant. However, a lot may change by the time of the election next May.
Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, said:
"Today’s announcement has been a bit of a mixed bag for the freight industry in Scotland. On the one hand it is great that certain key projects, like the Forth crossing, have been spared the axe. However, freight transport’s share of the overall pie is looking much more modest; all the more reason for those ‘greenlit’ projects to be protected from the inevitable political horsetrading that is bound to follow in the lead up to next year’s election.
"With no firm commitment to invest in our trunk road network and cuts planned to essential maintenance there could also be an impact on road safety – we would urge the policy makers to look again at FTA’s budget submission which highlighted this as a key area of concern."
The Departmental spend on what it terms "support for the Freight Industry" has gone from £10.3m (out of a total spend of £76.3m), to £2.9m (out of £67.1m),a cut in support for logistics of over two thirds.
"Failing to invest adequately in Scotland’s supply chain is bad for business, the environment and other road users. While we accept that retrenchment is inevitable it is disappointing that transport seems to be taking the lion’s share of cuts. For example, the freight facilities grant, intended to improve the way logistics works – especially for intermodal facilities, like cranes – has been slashed, this could prove costly in the long run."
In the run up to the setting of the Scottish budget, FTA prioritised certain key infrastructure projects that demand government commitment.
"Scottish Government says it wants to reduce funding for initiatives to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. We would suggest it lets industry take the lead with such initiatives as the pioneering Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme, a voluntary scheme designed to measure industry’s carbon footprint."