Transport Minister makes concession on discount for smaller hauliers

THE Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown has told Highlands and Islands MSP Jamie McGrigor that the Scottish Government will look again at a hauliers’ ferry discount “to ensure we can offer discounts to small hauliers too.”

Mr McGrigor said: “I am prepared to give a cautious welcome to the Transport Minister’s concession on this issue of very real concern to small hauliers in my region of the Highlands and Islands.”

The Conservative MSP had made representations to the Minister after being approached by numerous small hauliers on the west coast of Scotland who were extremely alarmed that following this Spring’s planned ending of Road Equivalent Tariff scheme (RET) for commercial vehicles, the Scottish Government’s replacement scheme would only offer a 25 per cent discount to the operators of large commercial vehicles, not small operators.

Expanding, he said: “I have received numerous representations from small hauliers operating on routes in the inner and outer Hebrides and they were rightly furious that the new discount scheme was only due to apply to larger operators.

“This was patently unfair and would have placed them at a severe and unacceptable competitive disadvantage and could have squeezed many of them out of business and led to less competition for island communities and the consumers, farmers and crofters dependent on these smaller companies.”

In a letter to Mr McGrigor, the Minister states that in response to feedback from hauliers the Government now plans to “fine-tune” its new discount scheme and “will look again at how the discount applies to ensure that we can offer discounts to small hauliers too.”

Mr McGrigor added: “I urge the Minister and his officials to engage with small hauliers and ensure that they are included in what needs to be a comprehensive discount scheme. I will continue to press him in Parliament to ensure this happens.”

Minister Keith Brown also confirmed to MSP McGrigor that the Government will seek to extend the current definition of a commercial vehicle from five metres to six metres in time for the next Clyde and Hebrides ferry tender.