Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing (pictured), has commended Forestry and Land Scotland’s move to help suppliers weather the COVID-19 lockdown and ensure that essential timber supplies will continue to support frontline healthcare workers.
Working in the spirit of Scottish Government’s supplier relief policies, FLS’s procurement, civil engineering and local teams have developed a system of ‘standby rates’ that keeps it’s road maintenance contractors working rather than them having to furlough their staff.
This gives FLS the assurance that its contractors will be able to help keep essential harvesting sites open so that crucial timber supplies continue to feed in to the logistical supply chain supporting frontline staff and services.
Mr Ewing said:
“Keeping Scotland’s harvesting sites open is essential.
“The timber they produce is processed into pallets that are needed to transport goods such as pharmaceuticals and food, and is also used in the manufacture of packaging, face masks and the biomass fuel that is used in many hospital heating systems.
“Getting these timber supplies out relies on forest roads being kept in a condition that allows heavy vehicles to get in, load up and get out again safely.
“This arrangement is indicative of the many innovative and positive adjustments being made to the way that Scotland works in order to ensure that the greatest possible effort is made to protect our front-line staff, save lives and steer us through this public health crisis.”
FLS’s area and national Civil Engineering teams have played a big part in finalising the agreements with contractors, which also stipulate that when essential maintenance is being carried out, normal contracted rates will apply.
Jenna Morrison, FLS Deputy Head of Procurement, said;
“Contractors all over Scotland help us to keep our operations running smoothly and this temporary ‘standby arrangement will be a lifeline for these small rural business.
“It also means that when any road maintenance issues do arise, we can rely on an immediate response that will fix the problem and help keep essential timber supplies feeding in to the ongoing national effort, to support frontline healthcare and critical food supply chains.”
The arrangement will be in place until the end of June, when the Scottish Government will review its policy regarding financial relief.