ALMOST half a million pounds has been awarded to improve rural roads in Ayrshire.

Scottish Government announced the funding boost to reduce the impacts of timber lorries on local roads.

In total, £427,971 has been awarded to Ayrshire from the Strategic Timber Transport Fund, which is managed by Scottish Forestry.

Also nearly a million lorry miles will be taken off the public road with an additional £800,000 being awarded to support the TimberLINK.

This is the shipping service through Troon harbour, which moves 80-100,000 tonnes of timber from forests in Argyll to markets in Ayrshire.

The co-financed money in the region will go towards the improvement of rural roads used by timber wagons including the A713, U759 Dalmellington and the U27 ‘Deil’s Elbow’.

Funding will also go towards a timber transport project officer who gives advice across the south of Scotland.

Announcing the funding, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, said;

“Scotland’s £1 billion forestry industry is going from strength to strength, producing millions of tonnes of high quality timber every year that will greatly benefit our rural economy.

“However, it is important that we do what we can to mitigate the impact on local communities of increased volumes of timber coming to market.

“That is the key purpose of the Timber Transport Fund and it is encouraging to know that local authorities and forest owners continue to bring forward project ideas that will facilitate the sustainable transport of timber and ultimately benefit local communities and the environment.”

David Sulman of Confor, the Confederation of Forest Industries, and Chair of the STTS Assessment Panel, said;“This funding is greatly needed to improve our rural roads to suit modern land uses such as forestry.

"Work on minor roads – whether it is strengthen the road surface, widening corners, adding traffic calming measures or providing passing places – makes it easier for local residents and business to share the rural road network.”

The projects supported not only ensure the continuing steady stream of quality timber to processors across the country but also reduce the number of road miles required to transport timber to market when shipping timber to market.