Niche freight: Scotland’s Troon Tugs serve remote areas with no pier or road access

Responsibility for Scotland’s five canals, following devolution, is in the hands of Scottish Canals, a public body which manages the canal network in Scotland for the Scottish Government.

Recent restoration work includes repairs to Ardrishaig Pier on the Crinan Canal (2017) classified as a commercial waterway by the Transport Act of 1968. In October 2018 an upgrade of the pier restored it to full operation – around 30,000 tonnes of timber freight passing through the harbour each year. As Richard Millar, Director of Infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: “Ardrishaig Pier plays a vital role in the economy of the local area”.

TimberLINK, a public service contract funded by the Scottish Government through Forestry Commission Services, supports short-sea coastal shipping of 90,000 tonnes of Argyll timber each year to Ayrshire. This removes around 8,000 lorry journeys a year from the roads between Argyll and Ayrshire. In 2017 the five year contract to manage the TimberLINK service was won by Associated British Ports.

Fergus Ewing, Rural Affairs Secretary, said: “It reduces fuel usage and cuts carbon emissions and, by reducing the number of timber lorry journeys on Argyll’s complex road network, helps to cut congestion, reduce driver frustration and reduce accident risk”.

Niche freight

The Troon Tug Company’s Red Princess complements Timberlink by servicing forests other haulage cannot reach because of its ability to access the shoreline of remote coasts and sea lochs. It will deliver logs for use in construction and fencing to Troon Harbour, next to Adam Wilson and Sons’ sawmill and a short drive from UPM Tillhill’s Caledonian Paper mill and biomass plant.

Troon Tugs own and operate landing craft, tugs and barges. Owner Robin Taylor saw a gap in the market: remote areas where timber could not get to a pier because there is no road infrastructure and where the jobs are not big enough to warrant the installation of a floating pier.

The Scottish Farmer reported that the Red Princess was refitted in 2014 to carry logs as she needs minimal infrastructure on shore. The landing craft, which carries its own loading machine and Bobcat, loads directly from a small bank on the beach with a stacking area beside the water’s edge at the bottom of the forest.

Red Princess will enable around another 60,000 tonnes of timber to reach Ayrshire’s wood processing sector each year.

it ticks several green boxes – bulk transport by water, fewer lorry miles and reduced carbon emissions.

 

 

 

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