Fear that the Freight Facilities Grant would be scrapped was partially allayed yesterday when Scottish Government announced funding for it until 2014. However, the Freight Transport Association has expressed concern that the amount being allocated will not match the demand from companies looking to switch to more environmentally-friendly and efficient transport modes.
FFG has allowed companies to invest in shifting goods by more environmentally friendly means, crucial in helping Scotland meet its target of a 42 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. But Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland, believes that this will not be achieved unless modal shift – taking lorry loads off the road and onto rail, or water – is more seriously supported by Scottish Government, “We are relieved that the FFG has not been killed off altogether, as this was the real threat facing industry before FTA met with MSPs at Holyrood late last year to gather support for its protection.
“There is a great deal of interest in the carbon and cost saving opportunities of modal shift available to companies that currently move goods by road – but £750,000 is not going to go very far and will effectively make Scottish railways less attractive for those who could consider taking goods off the road.
“We are certainly more reassured by the £1.25 million of investment that has been promised for freight modal shift in 2013, but as a percentage of the Future Transport Fund, modal shift is still not being given its fair share.”
The FFG has been in a critical condition following precipitous cuts in funding last year, including a real terms cut in ‘support for [the] freight industry’. Transport Scotland admits that funding has been constrained by budget cuts.
“We understand that the Government doesn’t have a bottomless pot of money to play with, but there are strong economic arguments for it taking more seriously investment in ways to take more lorries off our congested roads and allowing the supply chain to benefit from more efficient alternatives.
“FTA will continue to fight for more funding for modal switch and will be putting the business case for a healthy proportion of the additional £18.75 million planned for 2014/15 to be allocated to freight facilities.”