The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has expressed dismay following confirmation from Scottish Government that it will continue on its policy of slashing environmental and freight modal shift grants. The decision will make Scotland’s already onerous environmental targets far harder to achieve and could seriously damage the potential for a more efficient supply chain in Scotland.
Last year FTA wrote to John Swinney MSP, the Finance Minister who was at the time covering transport, asking the Government to reconsider axeing freight mode shift grants. The letter was undersigned by key industry leaders including the bosses of The Edrington Group, The Malcolm Group and Russell Logistics.
Today FTA received a response from Keith Brown, the new Transport Minister, which while sympathising with FTA’s concerns clearly states that there is no room for manoeuvre within the cuts to the Scottish Budget caused by the UK Government’s Spending Review.
Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, said:
"The Scottish mode shift grants regime has been highly effective in promoting and effecting modal shift helping to reduce congestion on Scotland’s roads. But to stand a chance of meeting a 42 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, schemes to encourage freight flows from road to rail or water must be supported not hindered."
Meanwhile, Charlie Gordon MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesman has expressed some hope after Parliamentary debate with the Finance Minister John Swinney that the issue of Freight Facilities Grant may be looked at again.
"We are encouraged that other parties are looking seriously at this issue and debating the matter in Parliament with Government. This is important in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May and will help inform FTA’s subsequent political manifesto for Scotland."