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Public Transport in Highlands and Islands

29/03/2004

Funding to improve public transport in the Highlands and Islands was announced today at the Highlands and Islands Convention on Arran.

Transport Minister Nicol Stephen revealed that HITRANS, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands, has been awarded £1.345 million fordevelopments.

The funding for 2004-05 can be used for new initiatives such as bus improvement measures and provision of cycling and walking facilities.

The MInister also announced that Caithness-based company, Norfrost, who supply 60 per cent of the UK chest freezer market as well as producing freezers and coolers for the world market has been awarded a Freight Facilities Grant (FFG).

The award of £640,000 is for equipment that will enable it to transfer and load its products for transport by rail on the Thurso to Inverness line instead of by road. Norfrost currently employs 230 people.

Mr Stephen said:

"This funding for public transport and rail freight is more excellent news for transport in the Highlands and Islands. Last week I opened a new section of the Road to Isles and yesterday we announced lower fare levels for lifeline air services to Campbeltown, Tiree and Barra.

"The challenges in improving transport in the Highlands and Islands can only be achieved through partnership and the Executive is committed to supporting the good work of HITRANS. The funding for public transport improvements underlines our confidence in HITRANS to provide more people with genuine alternatives to the car.

"We are also committed to helping businesses transport more freight by rail. Norfrost are a real Highland success story and this FFG award will remove almost 2,000 lorry trips from the A9 each year, improving the road for drivers from Caithness to Perth and bringing real environmental benefits. It takes the total number of lorry miles which will be removed from Scotland's roads by the FFG scheme to over 25 million each year.

"HITRANS has succeeded in bringing together all local authorities in the region, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the Scottish Council Development and Industry.

"HITRANS was able to use last November's allocation to fund a range of measures including new low-floor buses for Scrabster Harbour and Inverness airport, the redevelopment of Stornoway bus station and a further roll-out of the bus shelter programme."