Timber bosses pledge to review lorry routes

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson in Newcastleton's North Hermitage Street.
Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson in Newcastleton's North Hermitage Street.

Campaigners claiming that timber lorries are destroying rural roads and speeding through villages say they are confident their pleas are being taken on board.

That expression of optimism comes after representatives of Hawick, Newcastleton and Craik attended a meeting with Scottish Borders Council officials and forestry transport bosses.

And although nothing is set in stone, the campaigners say they can now see the wood for the trees and are confident the problem is being noted.

Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson said: “It was a brilliant meeting, and I’m really pleased with how it went.

“I have had a lot of complaints from people in Craik, Newcastleton and Hermitage about the timber lorries and the roads being fixed one day and ruined again the next.

“They are destroying roads that were never built for the size and the volume of traffic that they are now having to deal with.

“Newcastleton community councillor Greg Cuthbert also spoke about Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders councils getting together to try to thrash out some kind of a formula to keep roads like the B6357 up to standard on both sides. I also made it clear that some timber lorries are not sticking to the agreed timber transport routes, causing a lot of worry and anguish.

“Lorries often speed through the Newcastleton early in the morning in convoys of up to three at a time.”

Forestry bosses, and the Confederation of Forest Industries’ timber transport forum, which sets out approved routes for companies to follow, are now planning to look into the impact timber movements are having on the region, prompting hopes of re-routed traffic and more passing places.

A Forestry Commission Scotland spokesman said: “The forestry sector is very sensitive to the impacts that timber transport may have on rural communities, and we work together with local authorities to find solutions to ease this.

“We are to commission a piece of work which will look into the timber volumes coming to market from forests in the Borders over a five to 10-year period.

“The work will analyse forest exit points data, and by working with Scottish Borders Council we will review the impact that this has on key timber transport routes.

“As part of this work, we will also look at the timber travel movements from Northumberland and Dumfries and Galloway.

“When completed, this work will help inform and prioritise future actions.”

The news was welcomed by Hawick Community Council chairman Ian Turnbull who added: “They are going to do a new survey on the in and out roads so that they can make a new plan on where best to send the trucks.

“They are looking at putting in increased laybys and passing places.”