A section of road in the Ross-shire is expected to share a portion of a £ 2.2million grant from the Scottish government to help transport timber.
The financial boost for the Highland Council comes from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund managed by Scottish Forestry.
Funding is primarily intended for the improvement of secondary roads – improving surfaces, widening turns, adding traffic calming measures or creating passing places. All of these measures aim to help maintain the flow of timber to the market and reduce the impacts on local communities.
Among those who benefit is the B9176 Struie Hill.
This is a busy road for timber traffic with several areas of forest jutting out onto the route and some of the traffic further north.
The works involve 1,500 m of reinforcement / widening and smoothing of the edges and 5,200 m2 of coating, in total, spread over various locations. This tends to concentrate where the side of the road gets crowded with traffic and starts to warp and crack.
Given the scale of the work, it will only tackle the poorest sections of a 24 km stretch of road. Earlier this year, the road was closed for emergency repairs by city council for damage exacerbated by the cold winter.
The £ 210,000 STTS support represents 70% of the total £ 300,000 cost of the improvements. The remaining 30 percent is funded by the council.
Màiri McAllan, Minister of Environment, Biodiversity and Agrarian Reform, said: “A green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is imperative and, in this context, we are committed to supporting our forest sector given of its role in our transition to net zero. The sector also provides thousands of jobs and generates around £ 1 billion for our economy each year.
“By improving our timber transportation network, we can help the industry get its timber to market and ensure the sustainability of the economic benefits. It will also reduce the effects that logging trucks can have on small local communities. “
Roads on which to get improvements include:
A837 Rosehall to Benmore
Abriachan – Docfour road and bridge works
B873 Altnaharra and Syre
Reinforcement of the A897 Helmsdale Melvich road
U2054 Saval Road, Lairg
B9176 Struie Hill
In addition, the funding will finance the maintenance of a timber transport project manager who advises and helps generate local projects.
A private timber owner in Ardnamurchan will receive a contribution of £ 130,000 to build a timber stacking area, build a small bridge and upgrade a section of a logging road to help move timber out of the forest.
Over the past five years, the Scottish Government has invested around £ 41million through the fund in more than 200 timber transport projects, helping over 55million tonnes of timber to reach the market.