Sustainable Scotland: Highland Spring water on track to cut climate emissions

A brand new rail freight depot that will help a leading Scottish bottled water firm slash its climate footprint has been opened by Scotland's First Minister in Perthshire.

The move will see around 500 million litres of Highland Spring water transported by train instead of truck each year, taking 8,000 vehicles off the road and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 3,200 tonnes annually.

The development is a major milestone for Highland Spring, the UK’s number one producer of natural-source water, enabling the firm to transport goods sustainably and support its aim to become climate-neutral by 2040 – five years ahead of the Scottish target and 10 years before the UK deadline.

The new facility, adjacent to the company’s main bottling plant in Blackford, Perthshire, has been 10 years in the planning and has been realised in partnership with Transport Scotland, Network Rail and the Scottish Government.

Support included a £4.47 million Freight Facilities grant.

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It is part of Highland Spring’s long-term strategy to invest in and develop innovative solutions to provide healthy hydration in an environmentally sustainable way.

At least 40 per cent of the water supplied from the Blackford plant will now be transported by rail.

A new rail freight depot has been set up at Highland Spring's Perthshire water bottling plant which will see much of the firm's deliveries travelling by rail instead of road -- cutting 8,000 trips by lorry and 3,200 tonnes of carbon emissions each year

Each train can carry the same load as 22 lorries, therefore reducing the number of heavy goods vehicles travelling through the village.

“Getting the Highland Spring rail freight facility to the point of opening and operating has been a complex task and everyone involved should be immensely proud of their achievements,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

“Rail freight is intrinsic to the Scottish economy, it supports the supply chain and serves a broad range of sectors, and is good for society and our environment.”

She added: “Removing more than ten million lorry miles from Scotland’s roads in the first ten years of operation will go a long way to improving the environment and lives of those close by as well as helping the country as a whole achieve net zero.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon officially opened Highland Spring's new rail freight depot at Blackford, near Auchterarder. Backed by Scottish Government funding, it is the first facility of its kind to be built in Scotland in more than a decade. Picture: Nick Mailer

“I am confident other businesses will now follow suit.”

Simon Oldham and Mark Steven, joint managing directors of Highland Spring Group, said environmental sustainability was “at the heart of the business” and the rail freight facility forms a critical part of both the “commitment to tackling climate change and being a considerate neighbour to the local community”.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, welcomed the project as “an exciting and important milestone for rail freight in Scotland.

He said: “It’s an excellent example of the public and private sectors working closely with government to fight climate change head-on.

“To achieve net zero, we are working hard to ensure that rail freight becomes the primary logistics choice for businesses in Scotland by 2035.”


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