SNP MSP hits back at Grant criticism

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SOUTH of Scotland MSP Adam Ingram has hit back at critics of the Scottish Government's decision to close the Freight Facilities Grant scheme and it's alleged impact on Carrick.

Mr Ingram had raised the issue of funding for a railhead at Grangestone as proposed by Girvan group Ailsa Horizons with former transport minister Stewart Stevenson.

And he said this week that he will lobby the new minister, Ochil MSP Keith Brown, on the matter.

However it was confirmed by Mr Stevenson that the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) could provide an alternative source of funding for the project.

Mr Ingram said: "The Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) is designed to enable communities to come forward with their own solutions to make a significant reduction in carbon emissions.

"There is nothing to preclude freight road to rail projects such as that being proposed for Grangestone being considered for CCF funding provided it can demonstrate early carbon savings. The application process to the 2011-12 CCF will be made public as soon as possible and Ailsa Horizons will be made aware of it.

"Of course there can be no guarantees that any application would be successful. The fund is competitive and any application will need to address the criteria of the fund which will be made plain in the application process.

"It is a pity that the outgoing Labour MSP for the area chose to concentrate on political point scoring rather than focus on finding a solution to this problem as I have."

Mr Ingram pointed to the fact that there was no acknowledgement about the effect of Westminster cuts on Scotland's budget and the "hard choices" the Scottish Government had to make.

He added: "These cuts are heaviest on our capital spending which will fall by around a third over the next few years and by 800 million in 2011-12.

"In this harsh new world the Scottish Government has to shift resources where the need is greatest. In recent years the scheme has been receiving less and less bids, with awards of FFG totalling only 7.1 million in the last three years. Gone are the days when pots of cash can be left idle."