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Evidence to Local Government and Transport Committee on Freight Transport Inquiry by The Scottish Policy Group of The Scottish Region of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK)

The Institute is the professional body for the full range of people who are engaged in logistics and transport. This includes freight and passenger transport operators, government and local government employees, consultants and academics. The views expressed in this paper reflect those received from members of our Policy Group who have contributed. This response is confined to general matters considered to be most significant.

Executive Policy
The Executive's transport policy relates predominantly to passenger transport and more emphasis on freight is required. Reliable and efficient freight movement is necessary for the economy and is socially desirable to avoid increased retail prices. This is particularly important in view of Scotland's peripherality to its markets.

Retention by the Executive of powers to award Freight Facilities Grants and Track Access Grants has been beneficial and the potential to increase use of such grants should continue to be explored. Freight Facilities Grants should be applicable to all modes and the aim should be to encourage the best integrated system.

Road Freight
There is a heavy burden of regulation and pricing on road freight. Not only is fuel duty the highest in Europe, representing a third of operating costs but measures such as the working time directive, stage testing and the driver training directive all serve to increase costs to the industry. When such high expense must be borne there is a danger in a very competitive market of cost cutting by the less scrupulous with potential adverse safety effects. The Executive should use its influence to ensure the burden on operators is kept to a minimum.

Freight movement and deliveries are also hampered by traffic orders and loading/unloading restrictions which impose extra costs and can run counter to health and safety legislation by imposing excessive manual handling. The Executive should ensure and advise local authorities accordingly that the perceived benefits of such restrictions clearly outweigh the adverse impact on hauliers.

The decision by the UK government to defer the introduction of freight mileage charging with an offsetting reduction in licence and fuel taxes is regretted. The potential for early introduction of such measures in Scotland should be pursued.

span class="sp1">Rail Freight
To encourage more rail freight not only should the grant system be fully utilised but potential blockage and capacity restrictions should be avoided. There would be benefit in providing clearance for the largest containers on additional lines, including an alternative to the West Coast main line for movement to and from England. This latter aspect together with requisite route capacity needs to be examined in conjunction with the development of Hunterston as a container port.

Air & Sea
The potential for increased use of shipping services for freight should be explored further, building on the success at the Port of Rosyth. Increased use of air services for goods and freight should also be examined. The recent announcement of improved air services to Hebridean islands is welcomed. The potential of all such services should be utilised for freight as well as for passengers.


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