Panel products manufacturer Norbord is planning to transfer freight movements from the road to canal.
The company, which makes Caberwood MDF, Sterling OSB and Caberdek flooring, consumes huge quantities of wood fibre at its plants in North Devon, Cowie and Inverness.
While nearly all the company’s raw materials are sourced locally, a significant proportion of the wood required for OSB production at Inverness is brought to the factory from the other side of Scotland via the Great Glen.
“About 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes of roundwood logs come up the Great Glen every year” says wood fibre procurement manager Doug Lamont. At present, all of this wood is transported by lorry along the circuitous route of the A82 trunk road.
“Becuase the Glen is a major tourist attraction, with a very narrow road in places, congestion and the environmental impact of the lorries is a major concern.
Norbord is to be the first commercial customer of the Great Glen Shipping Company, and will shift all of its road freight through the Glen onto the canal for a six-month trial period.
“We hope to be bringing 400 tonnes of roundwood up the canal in a single consignment every week” says Lamont. “And each consignment will represent 18 lorries taken off the road. The hauliers are happy – they don’t like the A82 – and the local community will also benefit.
“It won’t necessarily save us any money, but it will contribute to our carbon reduction programme and it sends an important message about our commitment to the environment”.