A PLAN to clear congested roads and the launch of an “HGV hotline” has been implemented as part of a package aimed at supporting hauliers facing losses caused by the ban on lorries using the Forth Road Bridge.
The deal on support for the freight industry while the bridge remains closed to heavy good vehicles until February was agreed in talks between Scotland’s infrastructure secretary Keith Brown and industry bosses.
Haulage firms had condemned the decision to continue the lorry ban for another six weeks until repairs were completed, as the crossing re-opened to other vehicles yesterday.
They warned that the bridge closure will cost the industry more than £40 million because of the need for diversions of around 50 miles via the Kincardine or Clackmannshire bridges.
However, ministers have now promised “fast track” maintenance along trunk road diversion routes to help keep roads clear for HGV vehicles as part of the deal with industry representatives.
Lorry drivers will also have access to the hotline to allow them to alert Traffic Scotland to congestion along the routes to allow them to make quicker progress in moving goods. There will be additional road patrols in place and discussions with local councils aimed at keeping their key roads clear of non-essential works, in further concessions to the industry.
Welcoming the package, Martin Reid, director of the Road Haulage Association in Scotland, said: “Our members are looking at all possible routing options in order to get their goods to the clients timeously and without loss of earnings and so the support of the Scottish Government becomes vital at these times.”
Chris MacRae, Freight Transport Association head of policy for Scotland, also backed the deal, saying it was critical to “keeping freight traffic moving at the busiest time of year for the industry”.
The infrastructure secretary said fresh talks would be held with the hauliers ‘representatives in the New Year, as he hailed the agreement made with the two industry bodies.
Mr Brown said yesterday: “Today’s discussions with the freight trade associations were very constructive and we have agreed a five point plan to keep HGVs moving as works continue on the Forth Road Bridge.”
Meanwhile, Police Scotland said that five lorry drivers wanting to use the bridge were stopped and turned away by officers.