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Report highlights Scotland’s logistical inter-dependence with rest of the world

A wide-ranging report on the Scottish logistics industry has been published by the Freight Transport Association at its Scottish Supply Chain Conference, held in Glasgow last week (27 September) in conjunction with leading law firm DWF-Biggart Baillie.

Professor Alan McKinnon of Kuhne University, Hamburg and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, was commissioned by FTA’s Scottish Supply Chain Forum (SSCF) to produce The Scottish Logistics Report, which looks at the importance of logistics to Scotland’s economy and examines whether Scotland’s supply chains are fit for purpose. The SSCF is the pan modal supply chain representational body in Scotland, which includes representatives of all parties to the supply chain, including shippers, logistics service providers, carriers, infrastructure and facility providers and non-governmental organisations.

The report analyses freight transport trends in Scotland, the road, rail and air freight sectors, container shipping and roll-on roll-off ferry traffic, distribution centre development, carbon emissions from freight traffic originating in Scotland and the involvement of freight vehicles in traffic accidents.

Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland said:

"This report highlights Scotland’s logistical inter-dependence with other parts of the UK, Europe and the world. In the modern world and in a modern economy, supply chains do not exist in isolation – there is always an international aspect."

The report covers many different aspects of logistics operations in Scotland and highlights several notable developments, including:

a.. A significant decoupling of economic growth and freight tonne-km trends, suggesting that the freight transport intensity of the Scottish economy is diminishing.
b.. Scotland’s freight modal split has changed only marginally despite government efforts to promote the use of rail and waterborne services.
c.. Lorries’ share of Scotland’s road traffic remained fairly stable at 6%, while van traffic increased its share from 12% to 14%.
d.. The number of road freight operators registered in Scotland dropped by a fifth, though the haulage industry remains highly fragmented with the average fleet comprising only 4.5 lorries.
e.. A sharp increase in the amount of containerised traffic passing through Scottish ports, partly as a consequence of the boom in Scotch whisky exports.
f.. A substantial growth of roll-on roll-off traffic using Scottish ports, mainly on the Northern Irish routes. The volumes of ro-ro traffic on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge route have fallen well below their peak and are below the levels required for long term viability.
g.. Air freight tonnage handled by Scottish airports has dropped sharply, mainly as a result of the off-shoring of the electronics industry.
h.. The composition and geographical distribution of Scotland’s air freight has radically altered, with the proportion of mail rising from 35% to 57% and Edinburgh capturing a larger share of the remaining air freight traffic than Prestwick and Glasgow combined.
i.. There remain serious imbalances in freight traffic flows to and from Scotland across all transport modes. This undoubtedly inhibits the development of direct freight services to and from the country.
j.. Scotland attracted only around 3% of the new UK floorspace in distribution centres of over 10,000 square metres between 1995 and 2011. The recent decision by Amazon to locate its largest European distribution centre in Scotland suggests that the country could do more to exploit its locational advantages as a base for distribution operations.
k.. CO2 emissions from freight movements originating in Scotland remained fairly stable until 2009 when the recession reduced the level of freight transport activity and cut emissions by around 14%.
l.. There was a steep reduction in the involvement of HGVs and vans in road accidents and in the number of related casualties.

The issues and challenges arising from the conference and the report will be taken forward by FTA’s Scottish Supply Chain Forum. The SSCF is the pan modal supply chain representational body in Scotland, which includes representatives of all parties to the supply chain, including shippers, logistics service providers, carriers, infrastructure and facility providers and non-governmental organisations.

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