In great news for Mull, Forestry Commission Scotland is investing £3 million into a new pier on the island which will help transport greater quantities of timber off the island.
Getting timber off Mull is an expensive business. The new pier, to be built at Fishnish, will cut down on costs and save on at least 800,000 lorry miles each year as more timber is moved onto boats – relieving traffic on fragile mainland roads.
The pier will also be open for other timber suppliers on the island to use and is therefore expected to open up new markets and boost timber values.
This is no distant project. Preliminary work on the pier will start before Christmas and it is expected to be operational by late summer in 2013. In more good news for Mull, locally based company, TSL Contractors Ltd, will carry out the bulk of the work.
Announcing the new investment, Environment and Climate Change Minister Paul Wheelhouse – so far the most engaged and purposeful of the series of Environment Ministers, says: ‘Mull has a tremendous timber resource to tap into but transport costs off the island are high and therefore a constraint to marketing the timber off the island.
‘With a reduction of haulage costs and more sites being opened up for harvesting, we should see an increase in Mull’s timber value and a reduction of pressure on rural roads. The opening up of new markets and an increase in potential timber customers all positive outcomes that the new pier will deliver for Mull.’
One of the key components of the pier is that it will be made available to other private and public timber suppliers and it can be used also as a facility to transport bulk goods.
An increasing supply of timber is becoming available on Mull as its forest matures. In the initial period, it is expected that around 50,000 tonnes of timber will be transported via the pier each year.
It is hoped that the pier will help stimulate increased harvesting activity which will also support the emerging woodfuel market on the island. At the same time, established mainland markets will be maintained, such as at Kilmallie and other sawmills, with high quality spruce sawlogs and the Iggesund cartonboard factory in Workington.
Mull based TSL Contractors Ltd will work with Forestry Commission Scotland on most of the project, with support from Steel Pile Installations Ltd, and marine consultants Wallace Stone of Milngavie.
Moray Finch, General Manager, Mull and Iona Community Trust says: ‘The Forestry Commission Scotland pier will be a massive boost to the economy of Mull, not just through the jobs involved in construction but also through the increased sustainability of forestry and any other operations which might make use of the pier in years to come.
‘The investment by the Commission is a welcome endorsement of the efforts made by their staff on the island and also by North West Mull Community Woodland Company to make this happen.’
Colin Morrison, Chair of the North West Mull Community Woodland Company says: ‘North West Mull Community Woodland Company welcome the development of a fixed pier at Fishnish.
‘Over the coming years we will transport many tens of thousands of tonnes of timber from the north west of Mull and the pier should help our business and others move timber more economically as well as enabling significant savings in road miles.’
It should be recognised that in post-devolution Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland has been, in every way, a force for positivity, unafraid of and open to strategic changes – and often as their initiator.