it’s NOT the end of the line for a Rail Freight Grant project in Carrick according to the SNP - but it could be some time before the train finally comes in.
In a debate at Holyrood last week, Carrick MSP Cathy Jamieson tabled a motion to debate the future of the Freight Facilities Grant.
The grant backs schemes which take freight off the country’s roads and moves it onto the railways, and is scheduled to be scapped as part of major savings to the budget.
The SNP Government at Holyrood believe that cutting the grant is a necessary budget saving as the money would be better spent elsewhere - until funding to allow it to continue is identified.
Plans by local social enterprise, Ailsa Horizons, proposed building a railhead at Grangestone Industrial Estate which would see hundreds of lorries taken off the roads and onto rails.
Ms Jamieson said: “The SNP’s plans to scrap this successful scheme are bad for business and bad for the environment.
“Everybody benefits from lower levels of congestion and pollution when we can take heavy lorries off the road and move freight onto the railways.
“In my own constituency, I know that the Girvan project has the potential to benefit the local economy and create jobs, as well as improving the environment.
“It is a win-win situation and has significant backing throughout the community.”
SNP Minister Adam Ingram was in agreement that the grant scheme has been highly successful, but stressed the only reason why it is being cut is down to budget cuts - and also highlighted that there are other outlets where funding for the Grangestone project can be sourced.
Mr Ingram said: “There is a consensus across the political spectrum that the FFG has had a positive environmental impact in Scotland taking millions of lorry miles off the roads.
“As Keith Brown, transport minister, made clear suspension of applications for the scheme is entirely due to the savage cut to the Scottish Government’s capital budget, some £800 million or 26% of the entire capital budget, by the Westminster government.
“The proposal to suspend the scheme was only made reluctantly and under the duress of having to balance a severely reduced budget.
“Mr Brown however made clear that there was potential for change to the decision and remedies were available.
“Firstly, he understood that the UK Government is looking again at increasing transport expenditure in its budget, leading to consequential monies coming to Scotland.
“If that happened we could quickly go to projects that are ready to go.
“So Ailsa Horizons should continue to register their interest and work on their application for Grangestone.
“There is another remedy available through the budget process.
“Any party can propose an amendment to the budget to reinstate the FFG scheme specifying where that money should come from elsewhere in the capital budget.
“The minister emphasised that remedies are available and the situation is not as black as has been painted. I hope that with cooperation between all parties the matter can be looked at again.”