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Scots freight industry is a curate’s egg, says new report

[ October 5, 2012   //   ]

There has been a sharp increase in the amount of containerised traffic passing through Scottish ports, partly because of the boom in whisky exports, according to a new report on the logistics industry there.

The report, authored by Professor Alan McKinnon of Kuhne University, Hamburg and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh and published by the Freight Transport Association at its Scottish Supply Chain Conference in Glasgow on 27 September in conjunction with leading law firm DWF-Biggart Baillie also found a substantial growth of roll-on roll-off traffic using Scottish ports, but this was mainly on the Northern Irish routes. Of more concern was the fact that volumes of ro-ro traffic on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge route have fallen well below their peak and are below the levels required for long term viability, the report stated.

It found, too, that air freight tonnage handled by Scottish airports has dropped sharply, mainly as a result of the off-shoring of the electronics industry. At the same time, the composition and geographical distribution of Scotland’s air freight has radically altered, with the proportion of mail rising from 35% to 57% and Edinburgh capturing a larger share of the remaining air freight traffic than Prestwick and Glasgow combined.

There are also still serious imbalances in freight traffic flows to and from Scotland across all transport modes, which undoubtedly inhibits the development of direct freight services to and from the country.

Scotland attracted only around 3% of the new UK floorspace in distribution centres of over 10,000 square metres between 1995 and 2011, although the recent decision by Amazon to locate its largest European distribution centre in Scotland suggests that the country could do more to exploit its locational advantages as a base for distribution operations.

 

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