1. Rob Gibson (Caithness, Sutherland and Ross) (SNP):
To ask the Scottish Government what carbon saving would be made by removing one supermarket lorry from the A9 between Edinburgh and Thurso and carrying the contents by rail. (S4O-04274)
The Minister for Transport and Islands (Derek Mackay):
Based on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Department of Energy and Climate Change carbon emission figures published in 2014 and the latest data published by the Rail Delivery Group, the Scottish Government estimates that, for each tonne transferred by rail freight rather than by road, CO2 emissions would be reduced by up to 75 per cent. The actual carbon saving may depend on loading figures.
The minister should perhaps understand that 90 per cent of the supermarkets in the Highlands are within 1 mile of the railway and that many supermarkets deliver provisions by van to the furthest-flung doors in the country. Will he explore the possibility of introducing a new means to deliver supermarket stock, which could be unloaded from containers and picked up from rail sidings en route to supermarkets, so that further reductions can be made in greenhouse gases?
I will consider that. We are refreshing our rail freight strategy and will consult on it over the summer. It will include steps that the rail industry can take to encourage and support innovation and growth in the rail freight sector.